Arts The Heart of Criticism
posted by October 18 at 11:22 AMon
The novel that most directly speaks to the critic, that defines, describes his/her function, mission, purpose, is Heart of Darkness. The narrative of Conrad’s short book is the narrative of any work of criticism. Marlow’s journey to the core of the colonial world has its double—its secret sharer—in the critic’s journey to the core of a work of art. That core is never apolitical. That core is always its truth. Upon reaching the point from which the work (a system of associations) radiates, glows, derives its power or aura, the critic must ask this: does it liberate or does it enslave? It’s one or the other. At the core of the colonial world, Conrad found an oppressor, Kurtz; at the core of other works, the critic might find the opposite: a liberator, a Moses, a Christ, a Muhammad.