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date: 20 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter shows Shakespeare weaving his rhetorical engagement with Ovid with a sexual narrative to ‘disorient’ his readership, in the process critically reorienting his own relationship with Ovid as early as his first attempt to emulate him. The narrator’s evolving attitude to the figure of Adonis emerges as a site for this metamorphosis, as readerly desire is set at variance with that of the inscribed subject(s). A brief, final excursion into Lucrece illustrates most directly what is at stake in the Ovidian Shakespeare’s redefinition of his poetic at this juncture, and the nature of its urgency. While it might have remained a young poet’s bravura adoption of a trendy project, Venus and Adonis becomes an exuberant yet confusing and responsible work that signals the beginning of a career which refuses to scrape poetic alchemy clean of its affective cost.

Keywords: aestheticism/aestheticist/aesthete, desire, epyllion, illusion/illusionism/illusionist, let, metamorphosis/metamorphic, Ovid, Venus and Adonis, Lucrece

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