Ray Bradbury’s “The Million Year Picnic” (1946)

Ray Bradbury’s “The Million Year Picnic” (1946)

Bradbury’s “The Million Year Picnic” (1946) is a somber metaphor about what a picnic is not—a family’s escape from Earth to build a new Eden on Mars. We don’t know how it ends because this is the final story in the collection of The Martian Chronicles. Sometime...
Larry Rivers’ Picnics (1985-1990)

Larry Rivers’ Picnics (1985-1990)

Rivers’ appreciation of Fernand Léger is expressed in two paintings, Picnic (1985) and The Pleasant Picnic (1990). Picnic closely follows Léger’s  La Partie de Champagne (The Country Outing)  (1952/53), showing a congenial group at the edge of a river or...
Gertrude Bell’s Baghdad Picnics (1920s)

Gertrude Bell’s Baghdad Picnics (1920s)

While serving, Bell was a spy. Often Bell’s dual roles as Oriental Secretary to the High Commissioner in Baghdad indistinguishable. Once using picnics as a mask, she and her companions took an official to a lonely beach for an interrogation. She and her...
Walt Disney’s Donald Duck’s Picnic (1939)

Walt Disney’s Donald Duck’s Picnic (1939)

At first, Donald Duck’s beach picnic is a pleasant outing. Donald and Pluto set up on the beach for a perfect day. Donald plants an umbrella for shade and spreads a blanket for food. Expectations are high. It doesn’t last, as usual. The picnic turmoil is classic....
Charles Coe’s Picnic on the Moon (1999)

Charles Coe’s Picnic on the Moon (1999)

Charles Coe’s poem “Picnic on the Moon,” Picnic on the Moon (1999), is not sci-fi. It’s a critique of human violence and enmity on Earth set against the Moon’s tranquility and quiet. The Moon sounds like the perfect picnic spot- a great place to bask...
“The Picnic Season” at Jones’ Wood for The Daily Graphic (1873)

“The Picnic Season” at Jones’ Wood for The Daily Graphic (1873)

Claude Tavernier’s  “The Picnic Season,” a cover for The Daily Graphic (1873), depicts a picnic excursion up the Hudson River. It’s a narrative that begins as picnickers board a steamer from Jones Wood, a popular commercial picnic ground in northern Manhattan (an area...
Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain (1924)

Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain (1924)

This picnic staged by Pieter Peeperkorn at the Flüela Falls is a central episode in Mann’s The Magic Mountain. Literally, it’s a picnic; metaphorically, it’s a contrast between man and the force of nature in which nature is dominant. Mann’s description of the power...
Monica Ali’s  Brick Lane (2007)

Monica Ali’s Brick Lane (2007)

Monica Ali’s family in Brick Lane is outwardly happy but inwardly troubled. After twenty years, Nazneen’s arranged marriage to Chanu Ahmed has gone wobbly. She’s never loved Chanu, but at the time of the picnic, she’s conflicted by guilt and lust-fueled by Karim, a...
Sara & Gerald Murphy picnic in Antibes (1920s)

Sara & Gerald Murphy picnic in Antibes (1920s)

Villa America, Sara and Gerald Murphy’s home in Antibes looked down on a beach called La Garoupe, where they spread oriental carpets on the sand and drank wine and cold Veuve Cliquot. They were prodigious drinkers but what they ate is a mystery. During the 1920s,...
John Banville’sThe Sea (2005)

John Banville’sThe Sea (2005)

Banville’s The Sea is about a man’s untrustworthy memories—less about his dying wife and more about his sexual awakening when he was about eleven years old. Looking back, Max Morden realizes that his observations of the Grace family’s beach picnics “changed his life...