Through Darkest Pondelayo

Last updated
Through Darkest Pondelayo
Through Darkest Pondelayo.jpg
First edition cover
Author Joan Lindsay (psd. Serena Livingstone-Stanley)
Genre Satire, travel novel, metafiction
Publisher Chatto & Windus
Publication date

Through Darkest Pondelayo: An account of the adventures of two English ladies on a cannibal island is a 1936 Australian satirical novel by Joan Lindsay, published under the pseudonym Serena Livingstone-Stanley. [1] The book, which was Lindsay's first-published work, was based on her time spent traveling in Europe, and functions as a parody of English tourists abroad. It is structured in the format of a travel book through a series of first-person letters edited together to form a metafictional narrative. [2]


The narrative is accompanied by photographs of the adventures, which were shot by Lindsay with her friends in a backyard in East Melbourne. [3]


The narrative is presented as a series of letters edited by one Rev. Barnaby Whitecorn D.D., who is purported to be the author’s "next door neighbour," and is also illustrated with plated photographs of the adventures.

The author, the English Serena Livingston-Stanley, her friend, Francis, and maidservant Placket, sail from Harwich on ‘May 14th’ in an unspecified year into the Mediterranean and via the Suez Canal reach Ceylon on 12 June. Ten days later they sight the island of Pondelayo, an island inhabited by cannibals, and anchor off Bogtuk. The women lodge at the Mission House, and are entertained by Judge Wiggins and his topless black female ‘servant’ Rosie, and in mid-July set out to explore the remote interior of the island accompanied by a wide array of characters, including Wiggins, Rosie, the Hon. Mrs. Pringle, Mrs. Garble and Captain Fitzkhaki-Campbell.

In Dead Mother-in-Laws Cove, the adventure party faces a crocodile-infested swamp, and on 27 July arrives at Tikki Bahaar, the first native village they encounter. They investigate the Lake of a Million Fishes, where Francis gets lost in the jungle and Placket gives a month’s notice. Later, in August, they cross the notorious Bobo River, cross the Parrot Gully, and climb Mount Blim Blam, a volcano in active eruption. From the Great Cataract they beat their way through the dense jungles of Upper Timwiffi and arrive back at Dead Mother-in-Laws Cove on 18 September. The narrative ends at the Mission House on 1 October with the author telegraphing the Reverend Whitecorn for the loan of five pounds to cover the cost of her return passage. She arrives safely back in the English Channel on 7 November.

Narrative style

The book is presented as an autobiographical travel narrative. [4] Lindsay wrote the novel as a satire on English tourists abroad after having spent significant time in Europe with husband Daryl Lindsay. [4] Included in the book are multiple photos, presented as lithographs, featuring Lindsay and friends posed in various simulations as the characters enacting events depicted within the narrative. [4] The narrative is also littered with intentional grammatical errors. In reviewing the book, Martin Boyd called it "one of the best collections of malapropisms in the English language." [5]

See also

Related Research Articles

A snuff film is a genre or video that shows scenes of actual homicide. The promotion of these films depends on sensational claims which are generally impossible to prove, and there are sophisticated special effects for simulating murder.

<i>Robinson Crusoe</i> 1719 novel by Daniel Defoe

Robinson Crusoe is a novel by Daniel Defoe, first published on 25 April 1719. The first edition credited the work's protagonist Robinson Crusoe as its author, leading many readers to believe he was a real person and the book a travelogue of true incidents.

<i>Picnic at Hanging Rock</i> (novel) Book by Joan Lindsay

Picnic at Hanging Rock is an Australian historical fiction novel by Joan Lindsay. Set in 1900, it is about a group of female students at an Australian girls' boarding school who vanish at Hanging Rock while on a Valentine's Day picnic, and the effects the disappearances have on the school and local community. The novel was first published in 1967 in Australia by Cheshire Publishing and was reprinted by Penguin in 1975. It is widely considered by critics to be one of the best Australian novels.

Joan Lindsay Australian writer (1896-1984)

Joan à Beckett Lindsay, also known as Lady Lindsay, was an Australian novelist, playwright, essayist, and visual artist. Trained in her youth as a painter, Lindsay published her first literary work in 1936 at age forty under a pseudonym, a satirical novel titled Through Darkest Pondelayo. Her second novel, Time Without Clocks, was published nearly thirty years later, and was a semi-autobiographical account of the early years of her marriage to artist Daryl Lindsay.

John Williams (missionary) English missionary

John Williams was an English missionary, active in the South Pacific. Born at Tottenham, near London, England, he was trained as a foundry worker and mechanic.

Emin Pasha Relief Expedition European expedition to the African interior

The Emin Pasha Relief Expedition of 1886 to 1889 was one of the last major European expeditions into the interior of Africa in the nineteenth century, ostensibly to the relief of Emin Pasha, General Charles Gordon's besieged governor of Equatoria, threatened by Mahdist forces. The expedition was led by Henry Morton Stanley and came to be both celebrated for its ambition in crossing "darkest Africa", and notorious for the deaths of so many of its members and the disease unwittingly left in its wake.

The genre of travel literature encompasses outdoor literature, guide books, nature writing, and travel memoirs.

Cannibal Tours is a 1988 quasi-documentary film by Australian director and cinematographer Dennis O'Rourke. While it borrows heavily from ethnographic modes of representation, the film is a biting commentary on the nature of modernity. The film is also widely celebrated for its depiction of Western touristic desires and exploitation among a 'tribal' people.

<i>Brazilian Adventure</i> book by Peter Fleming

Brazilian Adventure is a book by Peter Fleming about his search for the lost Colonel Percy Fawcett in the Brazilian jungle. The book was initially published in 1933 by Alden Press.

<i>Ultimo mondo cannibale</i> 1977 film by Ruggero Deodato

Ultimo mondo cannibale is a 1977 Italian cannibal exploitation film directed by Ruggero Deodato. The film stars Massimo Foschi, Me Me Lai and Ivan Rassimov. The screenplay was written by Tito Carpi, Gianfranco Clerici and Renzo Genta, and tells the story of a man trying to escape from a jungle island inhabited by a native cannibal tribe.

<i>Journey Without Maps</i> book by Graham Greene

Journey Without Maps (1936) is a travel account by Graham Greene, about a 350-mile, 4-week walk through the interior of Liberia in 1935. It was Greene's first trip outside of Europe. He hoped to leave civilization and find the "heart of darkness" in Africa. The interior of Liberia was at the time unmapped, and so he relied on local guides and porters.

<i>Propeller Island</i> book

Propeller Island is a science fiction novel by French author Jules Verne (1828–1905). It was first published in 1895 as part of the Voyages Extraordinaires. It relates the adventures of a French string quartet in Milliard City, a city on a massive ship in the Pacific Ocean, inhabited entirely by millionaires.

<i>The Mountain of the Cannibal God</i> 1978 film by Sergio Martino

The Mountain of the Cannibal God is a 1978 Italian horror film starring Ursula Andress and Stacy Keach, with English dialogue, that was filmed in Sri Lanka. The film was also widely released in the U.S. in 1979 as Slave of the Cannibal God from New Line Cinema and released in the U.K. as Prisoner of the Cannibal God, with a poster designed by Sam Peffer. The film was banned in the U.K. until 2001 for its graphic violence and considered a "video nasty".

<i>The Cave Girl</i> book by Edgar Rice Burroughs

The Cave Girl is a lost world novel by American writer Edgar Rice Burroughs. Originally published in two separate stories, The Cave Girl begun in February 1913 and published by "All-Story" in July, August, and September 1913; and The Cave Man begun in 1914 and published by "All-Story Weekly" throughout March and April 1917. The book version was first published by A. C. McClurg on 1925-03-21. In August 1949, Dell Paperback published a version with a map captioned "Wild Island Home of Nadara the Cave Girl Where Violence and Bloodshed Rule."

<i>Our Girl Friday</i> 1953 film by Noel Langley

Our Girl Friday is a 1953 British comedy film starring Joan Collins, George Cole, Kenneth More and Robertson Hare. It is about a woman who is shipwrecked with three men on a deserted island.

Tarzan Fictional character from Edgar Rice Burroughss Tarzan of the Apes

Tarzan is a fictional character, an archetypal feral child raised in the African jungle by the Mangani great apes; he later experiences civilization only to reject it and return to the wild as a heroic adventurer. Created by Edgar Rice Burroughs, Tarzan first appeared in the novel Tarzan of the Apes, and subsequently in 25 sequels, several authorized books by other authors, and innumerable works in other media, both authorized and unauthorized.

<i>Rhythm of the Islands</i> 1943 film by Roy William Neill

Rhythm of the Islands, also known as Isle of Romance, is a 1943 American film directed by Roy William Neill starring Jane Frazee.

Nurses on the Line: The Crash of Flight 7 is a 1993 American made-for-television drama film starring Lindsay Wagner and Robert Loggia. It was aired on CBS on November 23, 1993. It is set in Catemaco, Veracruz, Mexico.

<i>The Thompson Travel Agency</i> book

The Thompson Travel Agency is a 1907 novel attributed to Jules Verne but written by his son Michel Verne.

Nautical fiction literary genre

Nautical fiction, frequently also naval fiction, sea fiction, naval adventure fiction or maritime fiction, is a genre of literature with a setting on or near the sea, that focuses on the human relationship to the sea and sea voyages and highlights nautical culture in these environments. The settings of nautical fiction vary greatly, including merchant ships, liners, naval ships, fishing vessels, life boats, etc., along with sea ports and fishing villages. When describing nautical fiction, scholars most frequently refer to novels, novellas, and short stories, sometimes under the name of sea novels or sea stories. These works are sometimes adapted for the theatre, film and television.


  1. O'Neill, Terrence (May 2009). "Joan Lindsay: A Time for Everything". The La Trobe Journal.
  2. O'Neill, Terrence (2012). "Lindsay, Joan à Beckett (1896–1984)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Retrieved 23 October 2015.
  3. "Joan Lindsay Interviewed". DailyMotion. Retrieved 22 October 2015.
  4. 1 2 3 O'Neill, p. 49.
  5. O'Neill 2009, p. 49.