Osbert Sitwell’s “Picnics and Pavilions” (1944)

Osbert Sitwell’s “Picnics and Pavilions” (1944)

Sitwell considers picnic an ugly word. He starts the essay “Sing High! Sing Low!” without equivocating. Then, he finds picnics excellent opportunities to act as the noble savage in a controlled natural setting, a continuation of the perpetual picnic of Adam and Eve....
Philostratus’s Imagines (250-300 CE)

Philostratus’s Imagines (250-300 CE)

Hunting feasts have a long history. Among the Romans, one such by Philostratus Elder uses the rhetorical device of Ekphrasis, a verbal description of a visual representation, to illustrate a painting he observed in Naples. Ironically, none survive, if they existed at...
Agatha Christie’s Come, Tell Me How You Live (1946)

Agatha Christie’s Come, Tell Me How You Live (1946)

Christie’s picnic at Kawkab in Syria was indelible because the dessert was in bloom. During an archeological dig in 1934 (?), Christie and Max Mallowan* packed a lorry named Queen Mary for sightseeing at Kawkab, a hill about 300 meters high. They expected an...

Michel Leiris’s Manhood: A Journey (1946)

Manhood: A Journey, L’Age d’homme, is Leiris’s autobiographical exposé of trying to make sense of his emerging Manhood. Among his revelations is that he got his first erection at a family picnic in a Paris park. He was six or seven years old, and  at the time, he...
Theodore Dreiser’s  A Hoosier Holiday (1915)

Theodore Dreiser’s A Hoosier Holiday (1915)

“The Piety And Eggs Of Paterson” is Dreiser’s version of a picnic gone wrong. It’s strategically placed at the start of A Hoosier Holiday because Dreiser meant it as a metaphor for what is to come and how his motor trip from New York to Terre...
Brillat-Savarin’s The Psychology of Taste (1826)

Brillat-Savarin’s The Psychology of Taste (1826)

Brillat-Savarin, a passionate hunter, knew firsthand the traditional halte de chasse or midday tryst for luncheon. It’s the subject of “Meditation XV” in Physiologie du Gout, or The Psychology of Taste.* Because the halte de chasse is alfresco, it is...

Henry James’s English Hours (1905)

Chief among James’s observations of Derby Day at Epsom is his astonishment at the picnicking on the carriage tops. It was a sight of madness. “The crowd was very animated; that is the most succinct description I can give of it. The horses of course had...
Elizabeth David’s “Eating Out in Provencal France”

Elizabeth David’s “Eating Out in Provencal France”

David realized the elements of her ideal and described it in “Eating out in Provincial France.” “There has to be water,” she declares, “and from that point of view, France is wonderful picnic country, so rich in magnificent rivers,...