Those who walk away

Publication Type:
Journal Article
The Lancet Psychiatry, 2016, 3 (4), pp. 327 - 329
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Last year marked the 40th anniversary of the fi lm version of Joan Lindsay’s book Picnic at Hanging Rock. First published in 1967, the book is an Australian-based story set in 1900, in which four students and a teacher from a private girls’ school go missing after climbing Hanging Rock. The narrative of the book plays with the danger of the Australian bush, at a time when it was still perceived to be wild and untamed, ready to consume those who did not understand its risks. However, Lindsay also played with its deep magic, which lingers still, where Aboriginal spiritualities and mysticism converge. The mystery of the women’s disappearance is never solved, even as one of the girls is eventually found with no memory of the event. Indeed, the only hint of solution Lindsay has ever given is a fi nal chapter, not published in the original novel, where the young women follow a snake into a hole in space. Even here though, no resolution occurs for those left behind. We do not know where the girls are or if they will ever be able to return, and if so, in what state. Here, the readers, and the community, are betwixt and between the details of the absence and the wonderings about the where and the why of the unresolved loss
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