Samuel Beckett’s murderous picnic in Malone Dies

Samuel Beckett’s murderous picnic in Malone Dies

Time and details in Beckett’s Malone Dies are contradictory and often obscure. Events of the narrative are especially confusing, especially as it reaches a bloody climax that ends with a picnic where six people are hacked to death. This event is related by the...
Tony Ray-Jones’ Picnic at Glyndebourne

Tony Ray-Jones’ Picnic at Glyndebourne

Tony Ray-Jones’ attitude towards life was to expose its “gentle madness” and “to walk, like Alice, though a Looking-Glass, and find another kind of world with the camera.” He preferred to photograph situations that are “ambiguous and unreal, and the juxtaposition of...
Gwen Raverat’s Period Piece Picnics

Gwen Raverat’s Period Piece Picnics

“Heroic Survivors of the Picnic.” is Gwen Raverat’s bittersweet memory of a miserable picnic. It’s the next-to-last anecdote in her memoir Period Piece: A Cambridge Childhood. I think she means to suggest that life was no picnic, but that she has no remorse. Despite...
Walker Evan’s picnic with Robert Lowell and Caroline Blackwood

Walker Evan’s picnic with Robert Lowell and Caroline Blackwood

When Walker Evan photographed Robert Lowell and Caroline Blackwood picnicking on the grass, he was aware of the couple’s tension. He wrote to a friend, “I think they do a lot for each other, and it is a great pleasure to see.” But hinting there was more to tell,...
West’s Cardboard Picnic on Lawn of Fiber

West’s Cardboard Picnic on Lawn of Fiber

The Day of the Locust may have been the best novel ever written about Hollywood, but Nathanael West and his publisher Random House miscalculated. They believed an acerbic satire of the film industry and it’s insidious confusion of illusion and reality would sell, but...
Kurelek’s Paranoia

Kurelek’s Paranoia

William Kurelek said he carried “wretchedness like a heavy stone sewn up inside of me.” At times, the stone was lifted as in two picnic paintings Manitoba Party (1964) and Out of the Maze (1973), each testifying to his recovery from schizophrenia and lost spiritual...
Charles McCarry’s Picnic on the Grass

Charles McCarry’s Picnic on the Grass

The picnic in Charles McCarry’s The Secret Lovers, a Cold War spy-versus-spy novel, is a sly allusion to Édouard Manet’s Le déjeuner sur l’herbe. When Paul Christopher’s boss David Patchen complains that Impressionists bore him and “Picnics explain nothing,” Paul...
McCarry’s Nightmare Picnic

McCarry’s Nightmare Picnic

When picnics are portrayed as unhappy, the contrast is purposeful. The intention of Charles McCarry’s picnic nightmare is to provide a metaphor for the life of Paul Christopher, a Cold War CIA spy still struggling to find his mother, Lori, who was abducted by the...
George Platt Lynes’ Picnic at Tintagel

George Platt Lynes’ Picnic at Tintagel

So far, I know only this photograph by George Platt Lynes of Cecil Beaton’s set for Frederick Ashton’s ballet Picnic at Tintagel. Ashton’s story of the doomed love affair of Tristram and Isuelt begins circa 1916 and then devolves into the mythological time when...