Australia, 1900, Valentine’s Day. A number of students from the Young Women’s Academy, led by Mrs. Appleyard, leave in a covered wagon to hike at Hanging Rock, a rock formation a few hours’ drive from the school. Two teachers come as moderators. Once in the picnic area, he drinks tea, a little walking, a little sleepy. On a quiet quiet afternoon, there is nothing to worry about. Four girls ask their French teacher’s permission to walk to the lower rocky slope. The older girl, Miranda, tells the teacher not to worry. “We’re only going for a little while.” And there they go.
Finally, one of the girls returns, screaming in a frenzy, with no coherent story. The others are missing. One of the teachers also disappeared. Searches began, but to no avail.
Picnic at Hanging Rock It appeared in 1967 and has since become a classic Australian novel. Joan Lindsay (1896-1984) also wrote other novels and plays, but would live mainly as the author of this mystery story, which became even more famous after the successful film adaptation by Peter Weir in 1975.
contact with the ground
In fact, you can’t write about this novel without having to mention the ending – just a warning. As a reader you initially think there will be an explanation for the girls’ disappearance. Others are also present in the picnic area, such as Michael, a rich English boy visiting his Australian uncle who, along with groom Albert, watches the four girls as they walk to the rock and a little later takes the same route because he is infatuated with “the tall, pale girl with straight golden blonde hair”. “. Does it have anything to do with the disappearances? but not. He is still preoccupied with the case and a week later climbs the rock himself to find one of the girls, even still alive. Both he and the girl have to recover from their adventure for weeks. The rock was almost defeated.
This is correct Picnic at Hanging Rock It revolves around: the confrontation between the tightly organized culture of the descendants of the settlers who took over the continent, and the cruel, apathetic nature that bears no message for them. This culture is exemplified by the stern Victorian attitudes of the headmistress Mrs. Appleyard and the girls’ clothing, whose corsets protect them from their natural connection to the earth, sky, and sunshine. The failure to solve the problem of the disappearance of the girls is the strong point of the novel, and is an apt expression of the unequal struggle; We may be looking for explanations, but nature doesn’t care.
Picnic at Hanging Rock It was written in the 1960s, but it gives the impression of coming from a different time, as if the author is also referring to the time in which the book is set through her style. Gentle irony, foreshadowing, the suggestion that this is about real history – there’s just something about the 19th century. In fact, the novel is late Gothic novel, in which characters are sometimes species rather than individuals; The headmaster is stern, the groomsman speaks and thinks simply and directly, the local policeman is not too bright but stubborn. However, the manner in which the school and Mrs. Appleyard descend after the fatal outing is certainly convincingly described.
The book has now been translated into Dutch for the first time. The translator does not always succeed in finding the right tone. For example, the option to give the stable to Albert a Jovel-like Amsterdam language doesn’t always work well. The translator is to be commended for his efforts in translating the book and for the informative conclusion he provided. From this epilogue, it appears that the first version of the novel contained a final chapter in which the girls’ disappearance was explained. Its publisher thought it best to delete this chapter and keep everything a mystery. Perhaps this publisher was right. Without this separation, the book is much more disturbing and universal.
In Lindsay’s original version, the girls end up on the rock in an area where time stands still and after removing their corsets they disappear into a mysterious opening in the rock. In other words, after removing culturally imposed barriers, they become one with nature. It’s a strange story ending. The book may not have gained the status it has now with this ending, but in the end this deleted chapter underscores the essential message: Nature has the last word.
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