Introduction & Overview of Trompe l'Oeil

Mary Jo Salter
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This section contains 273 words
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Trompe l'Oeil Summary & Study Guide Description

Trompe l'Oeil Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains For Further Reading on Trompe l'Oeil by Mary Jo Salter.

Mary Jo Salter's poem "Trompe l'Oeil," which provided the title for her 2003 collection Open Shutters, describes an artistic style found in Genoa, Italy, and throughout Europe: that of painting realistic murals on the outside walls of houses and buildings, so real that people passing by are fooled, at least briefly, into mistaking the painted images for the things they represent. Salter uses this particular style of painting to spark a meditation on the nature of reality and the arts in general, finding insincerity in both the fake shutters that stand beside a real window and the French word "oeil" itself, which can be considered deceptive or a lie because it presents a final "l" to the eye but not to the ear (it is not pronounced the way it is spelled if one assumes each letter stands for a specific sound).

This poem is representative of Salter's work as it has evolved over the course of five books of poetry in the past two decades. The two subjects—painting and foreign travel—are typical in Salter's writing. Stylistically, the poem shows the deft control of rhyme, off-rhyme, and rhythm that readers have come to expect of her words. Salter's technical elegance is balanced with a light sense of humor that makes the most of ordinary ironies, such as the contrast between laundry piled up inside the house and imitation clothes hung to dry on a painted clothesline on the wall outside. The poem manages, in just a few lines, to treat readers to a new way of looking at the world and of looking at how artists depict the reality that others simply experience.

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This section contains 273 words
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Poetry for Students
Trompe l'Oeil from Poetry for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.
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