In this essay, Richard P. Adams studies Faulkner's artistic background for writing. Although he was provincial, Adams writes, Faulkner "succeeded in educating himself more thoroughly, and in some ways more systematically, than most college graduates are educated" (8). Adams contends that Faulkner, as a graphic artist, "always looked at things with a painter's eye" (19). According to Adams, Faulkner, during his trip to Paris in 1925, stayed near the Luxembourg museum and viewed many contemporary paintings. After describing the probable artistic influences of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist painters on Faulkner's writing, Adams argues that Faulkner's manner of composition is similar to Cezanne's: "Cezanne proceeded by laying on patches of color here and there, filling more and more of his canvas, until the forms emerged. . . . The viewer is forced to do a good share of the labor of composition, to enter into the process of constructing the picture along with the painter, to recapitulate and bring to life the painter's experience of the scene. . . . The result is a richly dynamic esthetic experience, which the artist does not present to the viewer so much as he allows and encourages the viewer to share it. Faulkner's method of writing is similar both in the labor it imposes on the reader and in the reward it offers him" (20).
Watson G. Branch sees Darl Bundren's peculiar characters as effects of his First World War experiences in France, which includes an exposure to early modern art movements. Branch speculates that "the exposure to contemporary movements in the plastic arts -- especially Cubism, which had been prevalent in Paris for a decade before American soldiers got there -- provided Darl with a mode for conceiving reality commensurate to the disorientation he felt" (111). Branch explains Darl's narrative and his painterly vision in terms of cubism: "Darl often exhibits specific Cubist techniques in the verbal constructs by which he expresses his view of the world: geometric patterns of juxtaposed forms, multiple points of view, collages, emphasis on two-dimensional surface rather than three-dimensional depth, and dislocation and disorientation of forms in space" (117).
Panthea Reid Broughton argues that the works of modernists such as Joyce, Stein, Dos Passos, Woolf, and Faulkner are spatial not linear constructions. Broughton writes: "They made novels not by tracing the linear development of a single plot line, but rather by building and arranging blocks of narrative. . . . 'Cubist' is the most appropriate term for describing that arranging and patterning of narrative shapes which typifies the modern novel" (44-45). According to Broughton, modernist writers adapted a number of cubist techniques, such as flattening, collage, multiple perspectives, and passage of planes, to their fiction writing. Thus, for Broughton, cubism is "the quintessential modern movement" (50).
Broughton examines some aspects of Faulkner's artistic development. She argues that Faulkner's work underwent two major transitions in the 1920s: From the "overly stylized third-rate poetry" he wrote before 1925 to the realistic fiction such as Soldier's Pay, Mosquitoes, and Flags in the Dust, to the modernist fiction after 1928. Broughton finds in As I Lay Dying various cubist techniques and claims that the text is formed according to cubistic principles: "Repeating geometric designs -- lines and circles, verticals and horizontals -- Faulkner actually facets, like a cubist painting, the design of this book. . . . Here we have a work of fiction that comes remarkably close to being an exercise in pure design, a true tour de force, a cubist novel" (93). Broughton concludes that "though cubist techniques are not sufficient conditions for greatness, they do seem to be necessary conditions in Faulkner's works" (93).
In this study, Ilse Dusoir Lind examines the relationship between Faulkner's fiction and the visual arts. After discussing the writer's early creativity in cartoons and paintings, Lind argues that Faulkner, after his visit to Europe in 1925, deliberately "chose to subordinate his secondary talent, to place it at the service of his emerging genius as a fiction writer" (129). But, Lind writes, Faulkner's interest in the visual arts continued throughout his career. In her discussion of Faulkner's As I Lay Dying, Lind rejects the conventional view that the text is essentially cubistic: "His use of the word 'cubistic' in As I Lay Dying ('The barn door, like a cubistic bug, comes into relief,'), while it indicates a specific awareness of cubism, is slightly pejorative in tenor, and he gives little evidence of responding to cubism in a strongly positive way. Thus, I do not myself view As I Lay Dying as being primarily a cubistic work, but rather as a symbolist or even possibly an expressionistic undertaking -- as the projection of the thoughts and feelings of many individuals (and of the artist himself) around the idea of dying" (140-41). According to Lind, Faulkner's extensive use of intense color in As I Lay Dying is expressionistic, rather than cubistic.