Sylvia Plath’s The Colossus and Other Poems(1960)

Sylvia Plath’s The Colossus and Other Poems(1960)

Plath’s “The Colossus” is specifically a jab at her dead father, Otto Plath, less clear an allusion to her husband, Ted Hughes. She had a stormy and pathological relationship with her long-dead Daddy, “Thirty years now I have labored,”...
Sloan Wilson’s  The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit (1956)

Sloan Wilson’s The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit (1956)

Ernest Hemingway thought Sloan Wilson’s The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit was trash. However, Americans still readjusting to World War Two and its aftermath thought made it a best-seller. Within a year of publication, Nunnally Johnson directed a faithful film...
Eudora Welty’s “Asphodel” (1942)

Eudora Welty’s “Asphodel” (1942)

Momentary serenity and happiness are upended in Welty’s “Asphodel,” a humorous picnic story in which three old maids are frightened by the appearance of a naked man. Cora, Irene, and Phoebe plan a picnic at Asphodel, the former home of their recently...
Alexander Pope’s Visit to Netley Abbey (1734)

Alexander Pope’s Visit to Netley Abbey (1734)

Not having the word picnic to describe his experience, Alexander Pope’s alfresco luncheon at Netley Abbey was a happy event. (It was not until 1806 that the English began to associate alfresco meals with our familiar word picnic. As  Pope did have the word, he...
Alexander Pope’s Visit to Netley Abbey (1734)

Alexander Pope’s Sightseeing Visit to Netley Abbey (1734)

Writing to his dear friend (and probable mistress) Martha Blount, Pope related his adventure at Netley Abbey and his alfresco luncheon there. He does not call it a picnic because the word was not used in English parlance until 1806. (See Harris’s The happy...