"The textures of music, the sensuousness of paint." Cubist Influence in Patrick White's "The Aunt's Story"

Thesis (M.A.) 2014 81 Pages

English Language and Literature Studies - Literature







CHAPTER 1: The Great Fragmentation

CHAPTER 2: Reconstructing the Deconstructed

CHAPTER 3: Inhabiting the Cubist Canvas




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Firstly, I would like to thank my supervisor, Dr Angeline O’Neill, for her guidance, patience and encouragement. I must also thank my parents and brothers for their unconditional love and support and my partner, Stu, for putting up with me all year. Last but not least, I would like to thank my Granny, Phyllis Gosfield for leading me into the Duchamp room at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and making me look through the peephole. Without your passion for all things art, music and literature none of us would be who we are today.


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This dissertation analyses the influence of Cubism on Patrick White’s 1948 novel, The Aunt’s Story. Overlaying Cubist techniques, ideologies and methods a new level of meaning can be unearthed. It starts with a consideration of the combined factors that caused societal upheaval at the onset of the 20th century. The emergence of new technologies, scientific techniques and expanding schools of thought were social progressions that led to the popularisation of Cubism, literary Modernism and the dissection of the self through psychoanalytical theory.

These ideas all embrace themes of fragmentation at their forefront, reflecting the splintered world that White experienced in Australia and abroad between the Wars.

White’s attitude towards Freudian and Jungian schools of psychoanalysis is examined as well as his feelings about the importance of intuition. His travels, both geographically and spiritually, are seen to run in parallel with those of Theodora Goodman, the protagonist of The Aunt’s Story. The influence of Cubism on White’s narrative style, formation of character and poetics is examined within the Modernist zeitgeist to explore the similarities in artistic ideologies, both visually and technically, between White and artists. Some of these artists were his contemporaries, such as Roy de Maistre, while others affected him from afar, like ‘fathers of Cubism’ Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque. Similarities between The Aunt’s Story and key paintings reflecting White’s narrative are highlighted through a close analysis of the text in relation to plates by seminal Cubist artists. Focusing on the Cubist techniques of reconstruction and deconstruction, dimension, perspective, simultaneity, collage and fragmentation, The Aunt’s Story’s fractured narrative is a superlative representation of a radically changing time when wholeness was found through reassembling the fragments.


Plate 1: Roy de Maistre. Figure in a Garden (The Aunt), 1945.

Plate 2: Georges Braque. Houses at l'Estaque, 1908

Plate 3: Roy de Maistre. The Boat Sheds, in Violet Red Key, 1919.

Plate 4: Paul Cézanne. Bibemus Quarry, 1895.

Plate 5: Pablo Picasso. Factory at Horta de Ebbo, 1909.

Plate 6: Pablo Picasso. Vase, Bowl and Lemon, 1907

Plate 7: Pablo Picasso. Still Life with Glass and Lemon, 1910.

Plate 8: Pablo Picasso. Fruit Dish, Bottle and Violin, 1914.

Plate 9: Pablo Picasso. Les Demoiselles d'Avignon, 1907.

Plate 10: Georges Braque. Woman with a Mandolin, 1910.

Plate 11: Paul Klee. The Wild Man, 1922.

Plate 12: Pablo Picasso. The Weeping Woman, 1937.

Plate 13: Georges Braque. Fruit Dish and Glass, 1916.

Plate 14: Marcel Duchamp,. Nude Descending a Staircase No.2, 1912.

Plate 15: Ern McQuillan. Patrick White’s Study With Gethsemane, 1973.

Plate 1: Roy de Maistre. Figure in a Garden (The Aunt), 1945. Oil on board (90.5 x 63.5 cm board; 108.0 x 80.5 x 7.2 cm frame). Art Gallery of New South Wales (Gift of Patrick White, 1974)


Patrick Victor Martindale White, Australia’s first and only literary Nobel Laureate, begrudgingly received his prestigious award in 1972. A few years earlier he had been offered a knighthood, which he refused, fearing it would stifle his creativity. He believed that this kind of prestige was reserved for a specific kind of artist. ‘The only kind of artist who can safely accept a title is the actor,’ claims White. ‘Actors can blow it out in a series of histrionic farts, but painters, writers and composers seem to bottle it up and become museum objects.’1 Losing his creative self became a persistent and nagging fear for White. He consistently turned to other art forms to rekindle his own creativity. He dabbled in writing plays and amassed a large and varied art collection throughout his life. He acted as a patron to many Australian painters including Sidney Nolan, Louis Kahan and Brett Whiteley. In a letter to comrade Geoffrey Dutton he commented on his feelings after attending a show of paintings by Whiteley in 1972. ‘This exhibition brought me alive again,’ he wrote, ‘wanting to do things myself, as I only ever feel when in contact with a great artist in whatever medium.'2 White grew up with a strong interest in Modern Art and Modernist literature and as he grew and honed his writing this influence seeped into his work. He admired the Cubists’3 ability ‘to weave about freely on different levels at one and the same time.’4 Their manifesto to create new forms, moving art further away from classical ideas and towards a future of abstraction, was new and exciting. White echoes this style of painting in his third novel, The Aunt’s Story. By experimenting with narrative styles, discourse and perspective he bends a cast of characters to his will. But it is leading lady, Theodora Goodman who is his real subject. In this dissertation my aim is to examine White’s

The Aunt’s Story using the critical interpretation and ideologies normally applied to Cubist art. By utilising this theory of ‘literary Cubism’ the totality of the theme of wholeness of self can be explored. I will develop a framework to enable a closer examination of the totality of fractured character. As the Cubists examined their subjects from all angles and then spatially reconstructed their elements to express the totality of their subject on the canvas, White furthers this technique within The Aunt’s Story.

Roy De Maistre’s 1945 painting, Figure in a Garden (Plate 1) , not only played a part in the inspiration for the novel but also appeared as the cover on the first edition of The Aunt’s Story. Roy de Maistre5 was a strong influence throughout White’s life. The artwork shows a woman depicted in a Cubist style. She is deconstructed into pieces, standing against a backdrop of cactus. She holds a simple flower in her hand. Dressed in Edwardian style, suited and high collared, she wears a formal hat that obscures her face. Although the painting is based on a photograph of a relative that de Maistre found in the bombed ruins of Chelsea Barracks she has since become ’The Aunt.’ 6 Bisected from shoulder to waist the subject is physically divided. She is opaque, a blank canvas. The colour palette used by de Maistre reflects the tonality of White’s novel; browns and yellows, creams and greens, highlighted with shocks of crimson. This painting’s techniques and styles are echoed in ‘The Aunt’s Story, which adheres to Cubist principles and is dismissive of mainstream literary norms. The traditional narrative becomes fragmented and disassociated, fluxing between stream-of-consciousness and third person as each section provides different perspectives of the same subject.

More experimental than White’s previous works, The Aunt’s Story focuses on a sole protagonist, Theodora Goodman. It is divided into three parts, each with a distinct narrative style and each multifaceted, revealing different aspects of her character. The first section, 'Meroë,' is titled for the Goodman's farm where Theodora spends her formative years. This is a subjective retelling of her youth and early years told from Theodora’s perspective, from her memory. Surrounded by the 'abstraction of trees,'7 the homestead, like the others that surround it has, 'eaten into the gnarled and aboriginal landscape and become a part of it.'8 Within her family dynamic, a father who she adored until his death, a cruel and unrelenting mother and a sister, 'as pretty and pink as roses,'9 sallow, unremarkable Theodora Goodman struggles to find her place within the world. When Mrs.. Goodman dies Theodora is free. The second part of The Aunt's Story, ‘ Jardin Exotique,’ follows Theodora as she checks into the Hôtel du Midi, in the South of France. Here she becomes intertwined with the stream-of-consciousness of a cast of misfits who reside within the hotel. In this scenery the narrative becomes non-linear, fragmented and layered. In the third section, 'Holstius,' the narrative returns to linear forms though the pace decreases to a slow and purposeful series of acts. Theodora arrives in America and descends into an almost psychedelic dreamscape in the Sangre de Christo Mountains, shedding her identity and becoming lost forever in a strange land. Each of these parts reflects White’s psychological and geographical location while writing the novel. In the opening section he was dreaming of home from London. The middle section was written in a fractured Alexandria during the war, and the third, like Theodora, he was returning home to Australia.

Each location Theodora passes through in The Aunt’s Story also reflects a foundational geographical space for White. The property, ‘Meroë,’ is a run-down dairy farm, reflecting a place where he spent his formative years with his godmother, Gertrude Morrice.10 The Hôtel du Midi (which literally translates to hotel in the South), where the central section of the novel ‘Jardin Exotique’ occurs bears a striking resemblance to the Jacquet's Hostellerie de Ciboure in Saint-Jean, France.11 White stayed at this hotel at the suggestion of de Maistre before writing The Aunt's Story.12 As de Maistre influenced both White's appreciation of cubism and the protagonist of the novel it seems appropriate that the abstracted core of the novel should occur in an echo of this location. The landscape in the South of France is also embedded into Cubist art. Both Picasso and Braque worked in this countryside while exploring Cubist technique. An example of similar vistas to those described within The Aunt’s Story are visible in Georges Braque's ground breaking 1908 work, Houses at L'estaque (Plate 2). Geographically, this coast is where the story takes place.13 The third part of the novel sees Theodora wandering through the barren mountains of New Mexico, as White had done many years earlier in search of the grave of D.H. Lawrence.

To further develop the idea of literary Cubism and its relationship to the work of White, this dissertation will be divided into three chapters. In the first chapter the development of the Cubist style will be examined alongside the basic ideologies of literary Modernism. At the onset of the 20th century both the Cubists and Modernists were attempting new modes of creative expression. These two art forms were both born of fragmentation and as the Cubists dismissed classical techniques and strived to present a new and multifaceted image on the picture plane, the Modernists too were looking for new ways to explore the human psyche.

This chapter will also consider the exploration of the psyche aligned with these art forms and examine White’s literary influences, particularly within the Modernist style. In the second chapter, Theodora Goodman’s early life at Meroë will be examined using the tenets of classical psychoanalysis. Psychoanalysis was also born of this fragmented time and once again echoes the big questions about humanity, namely, ‘who am I?’ and ‘why am I here?’ As White was more a Jungian than a Freudian, it is Jung who takes the spotlight and his ideas regarding the personal and collective unconscious, ghost gurus, gender roles and the anima and animus are explored. This chapter also considers Theodora’s epiphanies throughout the novel and their relationship to the fragmented visuals of Cubist art. The third chapter focuses on the Cubist core of the novel, ‘Jardin Exotique’ and follows on to the concluding dreamscape of ‘Holstius.’ The themes, style and techniques of this part of The Aunt’s Story will be examined and contrasted with seminal Cubist works. In this part of the novel White harnesses the techniques associated with Cubism using language. He effectively paints with words using elements of deconstruction and reconstruction, collage, fragmentation, perspective and palette. This chapter deals with a large cast of characters that reside within the Hôtel du Midi - characters who become intertwined with Theodora’s own stream-of-conscious narrative.

David Marr's critically acclaimed biography, Patrick White: A Life is an essential text in any research relating to Patrick White. Not only does the book supply comprehensive detail, but it also provides essential facts that should be considered when analysing the novels of White. Marr, through spending time with his subject, can attribute experiences and characteristics of fictional characters to White's own; for example, Eddie Twyborne's experiences in Western Australia or Theodora Goodman's pilgrimage to North America. This work, alongside Patrick White's autobiographical works, his autobiography, speeches and letters work to form a cohesive picture of the man himself.

"Letters are the devil," said Patrick White, "and I always hope that any I have written will be destroyed."14 So begins the epilogue to David Marr's mammoth volume, Patrick White: Letters. A third of the letters have been destroyed, misplaced or discarded but in the remaining 600 plus letters, White's life is tracked as he offers up opinions on a wide range of subjects. David Coad’s review of the collection states that, ‘Paradoxically, there is more of the author's life in the correspondence than in Marr's Patrick White: A Life.’15 This tome is an invaluable resource in revealing authorial intention and White’s state of mind when writing and subsequent response to his work's critical reception. Throughout this dissertation, these letters will be referenced to gain insight into White's life and provide context for subsequent analysis. While Marr’s biography tells the story of White’s life retrospectively, it is through the letters that a reader can gauge White’s temperament and opinions at the time that he was writing his novels.

White's antipathy to the public consumption of his letters begs the question of authenticity when it comes to his autobiography, Flaws in the Glass.16 Although an entertaining summary of a life, the contradictory nature of this text is foregrounded when considering White’s loud and constant statements on fame’s insidious effects. ‘Adulation,’ he said in Marr’s biography, ‘is the most insidious form of death the world can inflict on artists.’17 It must also be considered that White was writing this autobiography looking back at his life, rather than experiencing it, as he is throughout Letters. Speeches and essays, compiled within Patrick White: Speaks could also be subject to this brand of contradiction, though it must be noted these were written over a longer period of time than Flaws In The Glass and therefore more closely reflect the passage of time and with it White’s changing foci and ideologies from ‘the great Australian emptiness’18 to nuclear non-proliferation.

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The idea of literary Cubism has sometimes been used to examine more experimental works. The ideas are mainly applied to poetry, particularly Modernist poetry such as works by T.S. Eliot, Guillaume Apollinaire or Jean Cocteau as well as the experimental works of Gertrude Stein. Picasso and Braque’s art dealer during the Cubist period, Daniel-Henri Kahnweiler produced some interesting work examining the link between language and Cubism.

Considering the works of this period to be highly original and authentic he described Cubist paintings as ‘scripts’ or ‘signs.’19 It was Kahnweiler who titled many of the Cubist works, allowing audiences to ‘read’ them rather than just see them. He felt that this was vital to prevent the audience from viewing them as only abstraction.20 Literary theorist Roman Jakobson furthered this idea. He followed the school of theory known as Russian Formalism which dictated that both art and literature (including modern and avant-garde art) contain an element of ‘literariness.’ In texts or paintings this literariness was considered the differentiating feature of a true work of art.21 Jakobson called on Ferdinand D. Saussare’s Course in General Linguistics to provide a framework for Cubist works, engaging his method of ‘language as a system of differences,’ opposing forces combined to create wholeness.22 These ideas are examined throughout Bois’ Painting as a Model and Harrison, Frascina and Perry’s Primitivism, Cubism, Abstraction: The Early 20 th Century.

When considering the correlation between White and any kind of art, the first and foremost source is Helen Verity Hewitt’s Patrick White: Painter Manqué.23 Published in 2002, Painter Manqué provides an analysis of White’s style, discourse and narrative relating to several progressing art movements, from Classicism to Surrealism. Hewitt traces White’s writing in an attempt to document ‘a literary correlative of the history of Australian Modernist art.’24 The text focuses on seven of White’s more notable novels, starting with The Aunt’s Story and concluding with The Eye of the Storm. Each chapter provides an excellent overview of the novels’ artistic leanings in relation to the author’s context, intention and style. The problem with such an overarching analysis is the lack of depth achieved when examining one novel alone.

By focusing solely on The Aunt’s Story, I aim to provide a more comprehensive analysis of not only the contextual elements of White’s relationship to Modern Art, but also the literary techniques aligned with White, the Modernists and the Cubist movement. The text also provides insight into White’s art collection including a comprehensive list of his gifts to the Art Gallery of New South Wales. The contents of this collection are invaluable in revealing the author's stylistic preferences, along with his changing artistic ideals. It also allows for correlations to be drawn between specific pieces within the author’s own collection. Hewitt spends two chapters in Patrick White:Painter Manqué documenting White's often turbulent relationship with the Sydney art scene. Through these chapters, further information is revealed about the nature of White's preoccupation with art and artists.

Conflicting parts of the self are a strong thread throughout The Aunt’s Story and Cubist art. To begin to understand the complexity of the art and of literature's relationship to the self, one must start with the fathers of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung. David J. Tacey's 1998 text, Patrick White: Fiction and the Unconscious,25 begins to address psychoanalysis in relation to White's novels. Like Hewitt's Painter Manqué, Tacey traces the theme throughout several of White's works. Troublingly in the introduction, Tacey argues that White is not 'a student of Jung'26 and this underlying method should not be relied upon to make sense of his work. Tacey claims that White did not even read Jung until the mid-1960s, a fact that, although once claimed by White himself, is debunked within his letters. In the analysis of The Aunt's Story in Patrick White: Fiction and the Unconscious, Tacey veers towards the Freudian although he does address the text briefly from a Jungian perspective.

By utilising the theories asserted in Jung's The Spirit in Man and Literature, 27 Aspects of The Feminine 28 and Aspects of the Masculine 29 amongst various other works, one can see how Jung viewed modern art and literature. His letters regarding his opinions on Picasso and James Joyce paint a clear picture of his questioning the move away from classical techniques and his fear that perhaps these artists needed to be psychoanalysed as they displayed the same fragmented symptoms of his patients. Richard P. Sugg’s Jungian Literary Criticism 30 is also a useful tool in this area. This text helps to reallocate Jungian principles to literary works and uses The Aunt’s Story as a direct example. Other authors have expanded on Jung in relation to the work of White such as Patrick White and Alchemy and The Eye in the Mandala - Patrick White: A Vision of Man and God.31 These articles tend to focus on White’s more popular works, namely, Voss, The Solid Mandala and Riders in The Chariot, concentrating on the use of the mandala as a symbol. Christopher F. Monte’s, Beneath The Mask (An introduction to theories of personality) 32 is a useful overview of multiple different theories of personality and consequently their relevance to Theodora Goodman.

When attempting to define the history of Modernism and the ideals associated with it, I consulted many different sources including books, journals, articles and podcasts. Many academics have opposing views on what, when and how literary Modernism developed as well as how to define the texts that adhere to the style. To acheive an overview of the style Vargish And Mook’s, Inside Modernism 33 and Kolocotroni, Goldman and Tixdou’s, Modernism: An Anthology of Sources and Documents 34 were essential . These works both contain definitions of Modernism in relation to the changing society of the 20th century. Inside Modernism examines the role of three key aspects of Modernism; relativity theory, cubism and narrative, whereas the other text takes a broader perspective. Modernism in Australia 35 by Stephen, McNamara and Goad, presents documentation of art, design and architecture in Australia from 1917-1997. It presents excellent localised coverage of works by de Maistre and Nolan whose works are not documented as heavily as those of Braque and Picasso. It was in a BBC Podcast about Literary Modernism featuring John Carey, Merton Professor of English Literature at Oxford University, that the question arose, what does it mean to adhere to these principles of modernity?36 These texts alongside countless other journal articles about the ideology of Modernist literature helped form a basis for further examination of the idea of literary Cubism.

Much has been written on the subject of Cubist art. From the onset of Modernism in the early 20th century the fascination with new forms has been studied extensively. Some of these works, namely, Picasso and Truth: From Cubism to Guernica 37 by T.J. Clark, Georges Braque: A Life 38 by Alex Danchev and A Sum of Destructions: Picasso's Cultures and the Creation of Cubism 39 by Natasha Staller expand on the foundations of Cubism and the ideals associated. Journal articles such as Joost Haan and Michel D. Ferrari’s Picasso’s Migraine: Illusory Cubist Splitting or Illusion? 40 and Tom Ettinger’s, Picasso, Cubism, and the Eye of the Beholder: Psychoanalysis and Cognitive Psychology 41 begin to examine Cubism from a psychoanalytical perspective, corresponding to the ideals of Modernism. Technique specific texts regarding elements of Cubism such as Brandon Taylor’s, Collage: The Making of Modern Art 42 and Christine Poggi’s In Defiance of Painting: Cubism, Futurism, and the Invention of Collage 43 have been essential to the analysis and comparison of Cubism’s relationship to literature.

Through these texts the connection between Cubism and literature can be seen. By examining the factors leading to the development of art and literature in the early 20th century White’s influences are clear and their effect on The Aunt’s Story becomes an important tool in the analysis of the novel. Psychoanalysis, Cubism and Modernist literature all address themes of fragmentation. Putting the broken pieces of self back together is a major concern of humanity. White both deconstructs and reconstructs his protagonist to address this concern and consequently the reader is drawn to do the same.

Chapter 1: The Great Fragmentation

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‘I am an artist,’ said Alyosha Sergei, in a still, convinced voice. ‘Although I cannot produce any material evidence, and it is doubtful whether my sensibility will ever crystallize in just that way. I am the Artist. Very few people have the capacity for creating life, for being. But you cannot deny, Ludmilla, that one moment of my existence is intensely varied, intensely moving. Take that gob of spittle, for instance. A moonstone, a jewel. There is no denying that I am an artist.’

Cubism and literary Modernism are key movements that historically reflect the societal change of the 20th century. One genre utilises words, the other pictures, but they both echo the zeitgeist of the era and have become intertwined and essential historical documents that represent the move towards modernity. By defining both Cubism and literary Modernism the parallels between the two can be carefully examined, which is essential within this work to develop the framework of ‘literary Cubism’ that can then be applied to Patrick White’s The Aunt’s Story. Although this text was not completed until 1948, it still employs the crucial themes of both literary Modernism and Cubism through themes, style and poetics.

There is an invisible web that links all art together. Music, dance, painting and literature are all forms of creative expression that communicate meaning. It is only through interpretation that these meanings may be found and interpretation is always subjective. When Patrick White picked up his pen to write The Aunt’s Story he was already obsessed with the inner workings of the human mind, art, music and literature. He had spent his formative years travelling the world. Born in England and raised in Australia and educated between Sydney and Cambridge, White travelled extensively both internationally and within Europe. He wrote his first novel, Happy Valley (1939) in London and his second, The Living and the Dead (1941) in New York. During World War II, White served in the British Royal Air Force as an intelligence officer. This took him to Egypt, Palestine and Greece, where he met his lifelong partner Manoly Lascaris.44 In London, White immersed himself in the creative milieu of the cultural elite. It is here that his love affair with art bloomed.45 During these travels he was exposed to an ever-changing cast of characters. These characters bounced around in his brain for years, and many of them eventually populated the pages of his novels.

After a bout of homesickness White returned to Australia by passenger liner with the draft of The Aunt’s Story completed. Here he struggled to reacclimatise to his new life. ‘It is not that I am not Australian,’ he said in a letter to the Duttons many years later, ‘I am an anachronism, something left over from that period when people were no longer English and not yet indigenous.’46 When The Aunt’s Story was published in the United States the novel sold enough copies to warrant a second printing. It received glowing reviews in both The New York Times Book Review and The New Yorker. The Australian reception of the novel was not so favourable. Even his mother was a critic saying, ‘What a pity you didn’t write a story about a cheery aunt.’47 Feeling a sense of ‘crushing rejection,’48 White quit writing and retired to work on his farm. His ideas of ‘the great Australian emptiness’49 were cemented. Whether overlooked or understood, The Aunt’s Story was written and published and now takes its place in Australian literary history. 'It is the one I have most affection for,’ White wrote in a letter to Geoffrey Dutton, ' and I always find it irritating that only six Australians seem to have liked it.'50 He knew this to be the case by examining copies in public libraries to see where the dog-eared pages ended.51 In 1972, he reiterated his affection for the novel when, upon being asked which of his novels he felt the closest to replied, 'I tend to feel close to The Aunt's Story because in the beginning it was either ignored, or, in Australia, considered a freak .' 52

The fulfilment of an idea that had been lingering in White's brain for some time, protagonist, Theodora Goodman, is a character made up of two significant pieces. She was born of a cross between two major influences in White’s life, his godmother, Gertrude Morrice, who visited him during the Summer of 1939 and Roy de Maistre. It was de Maistre’s painting, Figure in a Garden, 53 that had seared its image onto White's mind.54 These two had been formative in White’s relationship with art. When he was a child Morrice introduced him to Literature. Later on, in London, de Maistre schooled him in the language of painting. Although starting his own career at the tail end of Modernism it is well known that White was strongly influenced by Modernist writers. In the 1920’s a young White was introduced to the work of these authors through his godmother, Gertrude Morrice. In his autobiography, Flaws In the Glass, he explains:

She took her godmotherhood seriously, though I don’t think she had a religious faith. She introduced me, book by book, at birthdays and Christmas, to Aldous Huxley and D.H. Lawrence, starting me off on whatever intellectual life I have had.55

She was also responsible for ensuring White’s love of art. She had bobbed hair, wore shapeless dresses and travelled by cargo ships rather than luxury liners. She adopted the role of the Aunt to her nieces, nephews and godchildren. Morrice was also intertwined within the de Maistre family, with two of Roy’s siblings marrying two of hers.56 It is Morrice, alongside de Maistre’s Figure in a Garden, that is the basis for Theodora Goodman.

The relationship between de Maistre and White spanned continents and decades. First meeting in rural New South Wales when White was a boy they became reacquainted in London in the 1930’s where White was attempting to be a playwright and de Maistre was experimenting with new styles of visual art.57 White fell in love with de Maistre who became, ‘an intellectual and aesthetic mentor.’58 During the First World War de Maistre suffered a breakdown.59 It was then, while working in Red Cross hospitals, that he began working with the idea of colour theory and with a colleague from the Sydney Conservatory, Adrien Verbrugghen, developed a framework for ‘translating melodies to colour.’60 During this period de Maistre began producing abstract works like The Boat Sheds in Violet Red Key (Plate 3) and Rhythmic Composition in Yellow Green Minor. As de Maistre translated melodies to paint on a canvas, White translated painter’s ideas to words on the page.

White had no talent in painting so he transferred his yen for creative expression to his writing. In 1959’s essay ‘The Prodigal Son,’ he stated he was, ‘always something of a frustrated painter, and a composer manqué, I wanted to give my books the textures of music, the sensuousness of paint.’61 The influence of de Maistre and Morrice had schooled him in the cultural arts and while in London, White saw all the exhibitions he could, including recorded visits to those of Paul Klee and Pablo Picasso. These artists left a strong and lasting impression on his creative psyche. A lifelong patron of the arts, White amassed a large art collection throughout his life. Upon his death he donated his collection of 144 works to the Art Gallery of New South Wales.62 Among this diverse collection of primarily contemporary Australian works there were pieces by Brett Whiteley, Frank Littler, Ralph Balson and Sidney

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Nolan.63 Roy de Maistre also contributes greatly to this collection. de Maistre’s included works of the early 20th century are distinctly abstract and striking examples of both Cubism and colour theory.

The 2014 Merriam - Webster Dictionary defines art as ‘something that is created with imagination and skill and that is beautiful or that expresses important ideas or feelings.’64 This all-encompassing definition allows for such a broad spectrum of creative works and now, for art to be literally anything. Through the years artists have tested boundaries experimenting with different mediums. A scrawl on a public wall, an unsigned urinal and a staged human interaction can be classified as art. However, this was not always the case. The 1828 edition of the Webster’s Dictionary provides an alternate definition and describes art as, ‘a system of rules, serving to facilitate the performance of certain actions; The liberal or polite arts are those in which the mind or imagination is chiefly concerned; as poetry, music, and painting.’65 This systematic approach to art, particularly painting, was established as an artistic science in the Renaissance. Artists were expected to create realistic portrayals of their subjects or surroundings by following their predecessors and utilising time-tested techniques. These rules were intended to create an illusion of dimension, perspective and space upon the artist’s surface, known as the picture plane. Within the picture plane lives the picture space. Using elements such as vanishing points, horizon lines, vertical stacking, overlapping of forms and manipulation of light and shade, the aim was to create depth and realism within a two dimensional space. 66


1 Patrick White and David Marr, Patrick White: Letters, (Sydney: Random House, 1994). iBook edition. Chapter 10. 14.vi.69.

2 Ibid., Chapter 11. 5.iii.72.

3 In this dissertation periods in art history will be considered proper nouns and therefore be capitalised.

4 White and Marr, Patrick White: Letters. Chapter 6. 19.ix.60.

5 Sometimes called Roi Livingstone de Mestre, or Roy De Maistre I have chosen the spelling used by Marr in White’s biography.

6 Art Gallery of New South Wales. 2014. Accessed October 8. http://www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au/collection/works/48.1974/.

7 Patrick White, The Aunt's Story (London: Random House, 1996). iBook edition. Chapter 3.

8 Ibid., Chapter 2

9 Ibid., Chapter 2.

10 David Marr, Patrick White: A Life (Random House Australia, 2012). iBook edition. Chapter 1.

11 Although on the Mediterranean coast rather than the Atlantic.

12 Marr, Patrick White: A Life. Chapter 8.

13 Braque also painted several other works at this location, as did Cezanne.

14 White and Marr, Patrick White: Letters. Prologue.

15 Coad, David. 1995. “Review - Patrick White: Letters.” World Literatures Today, 69 (1995): 430-431.

16 Patrick White, Flaws in the Glass (Sydney: Random House, 2011).

17 Marr, Patrick White: A Life. Chapter 17.

18 Patrick White, Patrick White Speaks (Leichardt: Primavera Press, 1989). 16.

19 C. Harrison, F. Frascina, and G. Perry, Primitivism, Cubism, Abstraction: The Early Twentieth Century (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1993).

20 Y.A. Bois, Painting as Model (Cambridge (US): MIT Press, 1993). 66-67.

21 Harrison, Frascina, and Perry, Primitivism, Cubism, Abstraction: The Early Twentieth Century.

22 Ibid.,102,103.

23 Helen Verity Hewitt, Patrick White, Painter Manqué (Carlton: Melbourne University Publishing, 2002).

24 Ibid., 4

25 David J. Tacey, Patrick White Fiction and the Unconscious (Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 1988).

26 David J. Tacey, Patrick White Fiction and the Unconscious. 18,19.

27 C.C.G. Jung and R.F.R.F.C. Hull, The Spirit in Man, Art and Literature (New York: Routledge, 2003).

28 Carl Gustav Jung, Aspects of the Feminine (Abingdon: Routledge Classics, 2007).

29 Carl Gustav Jung, Aspects of the Masculine (Abingdon: Routledge Classics, 2007).

30 R.P. Sugg, Jungian Literary Criticism (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1992).

31 Peter Beatson, The Eye in the Mandala - Patrick White: A Vision of Man and God (Sydney: A.H. & A.W. Reed, 1977).

32 Christopher F. Monte, Beneath the Mask: An Introduction to the Theories of Personality (Orlando: Harcourt Brace College Publishers, 1995).

33 T. Vargish and D.E. Mook, Inside Modernism: Relativity Theory, Cubism, Narrative (Yale University Press, 1999).

34 Jane Goldman Vassiliki Kolocotroni, Olga Taxidou, Modernism: An Anthology of Sources and Documents (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1998).

35 Andrew McNamara Ann Stephen, Philip Goad, Modernism in Australia: Documents on Art, Design and Architecture 1917-1967 (Carlton: Miegunyah Press, 2006).

36 "Literary Modernism." 2001. BBC Radio 4. Podcast audio. 26 April. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00547fv.

37 T.J. Clark, Picasso and Truth: From Cubism to Guernica (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2013).

38 A. Danchev, Georges Braque: A Life (London: Penguin Books Limited, 2007).

39 N.E. Staller, A Sum of Destructions: Picasso's Cultures & the Creation of Cubism (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2001).

40 Joost Haan and Michel D. Ferrari, "Picasso’s Migraine: Illusory Cubist Splitting or Illusion?,"Cephalalgia 31, no. 9 (2011).

41 Tom Ettinger, "Picasso, Cubism, and the Eye of the Beholder: Psychoanalysis and Cognitive Psychology,"American Imago 53, no. 1 (1996).

42 Brandon Taylor, Collage: The Making of Modern Art (London: Thames & Hudson, 2004).

43 C. Poggi, In Defiance of Painting: Cubism, Futurism, and the Invention of Collage (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1992).

44 Marr, Patrick White: A Life. Chapters 11, 12, 13.

45 Ibid., Chapter 11.

46 White and Marr, Patrick White: Letters. Chapter 9. 26.xi.65.

47 Ibid., Chapter 3. 4.ii.48.

48 Marr, Patrick White: A Life. Chapter 12

49 White, Patrick White Speaks. 16.

50 White and Marr, Patrick White: Letters. Chapter 6. 13.xii.59.

51 Marr, Patrick White: A Life. Chapter 12.

52 White and Marr, Patrick White: Letters. Chapter 12. 21.i.73.

53 later retitled The Aunt

54 Marr, Patrick White: A Life. Chapter 11.

55 White, Flaws in the Glass. 25.

56 Marr, Patrick White: A Life. Chapter 4.

57 Marr, Patrick White: A Life. Chapter 4.

58 Ibid., Chapter 8.

59 According to David Marr it was not tuberculosis that caused de Maistre to leave the service. Despite the fact that this was originally cited as the reason de Maistre was unfit for duty.

60 Marr, Patrick White: A Life. Chapter 8.

61 White, Patrick White Speaks. 16.

62 Hewitt, Patrick White, Painter Manqué. 4.

63 Art Gallery of New South Wales. 2014.

64 Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. 11th ed. Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster, 2003. Also available at http://www.merriam- webster.com/.

65 Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary. 1828. 1st ed. Springfield, MA. Available at http://webstersdictionary1828.com

66 H.W. Janson and A.F. Janson, History of Art: The Western Tradition (Upper Saddle River: Prentice-Hall, 2004). 7-10.




Title: "The textures of music, the sensuousness of paint." Cubist Influence in Patrick White's "The Aunt's Story"