Randolph Chilton: On "Testimony"

Naturally, nearly all of the poems describe a criminal act or circumstances surrounding such an act. In addition to their content, Reznikoff's editing strongly reinforces his dark view of the period he worked with.

[. . . .]

The macabre facts of these cases are left to speak for themselves, but the cumulative effect of such descriptions is to evoke on the reader's part a growing sense of "a world of horror and violence," in one reviewer's words. Reznikoff says, "I didn't invent the world, but I felt it." On another level, of course, if we read sensitively, we must remember that the speakers describe the world of our own ancestors--a world we have inherited. In this context, Reznikoff's unornamented rendering of the records of murder, incest, violent crime, and cut-throat greed finally makes us perceive our world as strangely as any surrealist perceives it, but with a much more historically oriented sensibility.


Title Randolph Chilton: On "Testimony" Type of Content Criticism
Criticism Author Milton Hindus Criticism Target Charles Reznikoff
Criticism Type Poet Originally Posted 24 May 2020
Publication Status Excerpted Criticism Publication "Charles Reznikoff: Objective Witness"
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