Although many other arts are referred to in the Sonnets (for example, music in Sonnet 8, painting in 24, and acting in 23), what I am primarily interested in here is literature, and poetry in particular, and what Shakespeare says about his own art. All art is concerned in one way or another with deception or attempted deception. Artists are essentially con-men, con-women. In his compelling study, The Rhetoric of Fiction, Wayne C. Booth advises that since any sense of composition or selection falsifies life, all fiction requires an elaborate rhetoric of dissimulation. (W. Booth, 1961, p. 44) In this respect, poetry is no different from any other art form and engages with the reader in a discourse, a language of dissimulation or deviousness. This is its lifeblood. As readers or ’consumers’ we are accustomed to sleight of hand, deception, of having the rabbit pulled from a literary hat, our disbelief forcibly suspended.
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- Art: Clever, Very
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