P.H. Newby’s The Picnic at Sakkara (1955)

P.H. Newby’s The Picnic at Sakkara (1955)

Newby’s Picnic At Sakkara is a comic novel set during political and international turmoil in Egypt.   At the time of Newby’s action around 1946-47, the British are still in control of the Suez Canal, the Farouk regime was wobbling, and Egyptian nationalism led by the...
Jack London’s Martin Eden (1908)

Jack London’s Martin Eden (1908)

Picnics in Jack London’s Martin Eden contrast social disparities between the poor working and genteel upper classes. London’s Martin Eden alludes to Horatio Alger Jr.’s heroes who rise in society through hard work and education. But London disparages Alger’s optimism....
John Wyndham’s The Day of the Triffids (1951)

John Wyndham’s The Day of the Triffids (1951)

Bill Masen and Josella Platon have survived the vicious triffids, mutant plants with a taste for human flesh and blood. Exhausted and desperate for safety, they are stranded in a ruined landscape of Southampton. Wistfully, they are waiting to escape to Isle of Wight,...
D.H. Lawrence’s Aaron’s Rod (1922)

D.H. Lawrence’s Aaron’s Rod (1922)

Aaron Sissons, the protagonist of D. H. Lawrence’s Aaron’s Rod, leaves his wife and three young children to find himself. Something he never does. The “rod” is his flute, which he plays well enough to earn a modest living. It is also a pun on his sexuality and...
Martin Amis’ Dead Babies (1975)

Martin Amis’ Dead Babies (1975)

Appleseed Rectory in Amis’ Dead Babies alludes to Lindsay’s Appleyard College in Picnic at Hanging Rock. Like Lindsay’s picnic, Amis’ is a disaster. Though none of his Appleseeders dies, they are as the title suggests figuratively “dead babies.” The...
James Hilton’s Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1934)

James Hilton’s Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1934)

Hilton’s romantic Goodbye, Mr. Chips describes Chip and Katherine’s courtship as being so brief that within a week of meeting, “they were head over heels in love” and married soon after. This is not what a filmmaker wants in a romantic tale. The consequence is...
Muriel Spark’s The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1961)

Muriel Spark’s The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1961)

Spark’s Brodie sometimes took the girls into the Marcia Blaine school garden for a lesson. But it was a lesson and not a picnic. But Ronald Neame’s film picnic with Jean Brodie and her girls is his own invention. For the film, Neame and screenwriter Jay Pressen...
P.D. James’ A Certain Justice (1987)

P.D. James’ A Certain Justice (1987)

Adam Dalgliesh takes a break during a murder investigation for a picnic. An hour south of Salisbury near Lulworth Cove, he stops. ” There was an out of rocks, and he sat with one at his back and gazed out over the coppices to the wide blue stretch of the...
Günter Grass’s The Flounder (1977)

Günter Grass’s The Flounder (1977)

Grass’s unconventional picnic in The Flounder (1977) is among the worst. Not only does Grass mock the accepted idea of a picnic but, in doing so, turns Greek mythology topsy-turvy. It’s an episode in which the key figure is Sybille, aka Billie, a name that is a...
Virginia Woolf’s The Voyage Out (1915)

Virginia Woolf’s The Voyage Out (1915)

Woolf’s picnic on the summit of Monte Rosa, a fictional place in South America, is the high point (pun intended) of The Voyage Out (1915). Journeying on donkeys walking in a single file, the narrator creates the image of “a jointed caterpillar, tufted with the white...