J. Hillis Miller Othersの第５章”Joseph Conrad: Should We Read Heart of Darkness?”から。『闇の奥』における「擬人法」を巡って；
(…) The personification of the darkness (whatever that word means here) begins in the title, which gives the darkness a “heart.” Prosopopoeia is the ascription of a name, a face, or a voice to the absent, the inanimate, or the dead. By a speech act, a performative utterance, prosopopoeia creates the fiction of a personality where in reality there is none. Or is there? Once the personifications are in place, it seems as if the personality had been there all along, waiting to be recognized by a name. All propositions are also catachreses*2. They move the verbal fiction of a personality over to name something unknown and unknowable. The “something” is, therefore, strictly speaking, unnamable in any literal language. It is something radically other than human personality: something absent, inanimate, or dead. It is no accident that so many traditional examples of catachresis are also personifications: “headland,” “face of a mountain,” “tongue of land,” “table leg.” The phrase “heart of darkness” is such a catachrestic prosopopoeia, to give it its barbarous sounding Greek name. We project our own bodies on the landscape and on surrounding artifacts. In Heart of Darkness the prosopopoeias are a chief means of naming by indirection what Conrad calls, in a misleading and inadequate metaphor, “the darkness,” or “the wilderness,” or most simply and perhaps most truthfully, “it.” (pp.120-121)
(…) The personification of the wilderness is matched by a corresponding transformation of the African people who intervene between Marlow and “it.” Just as, in Thomas Hardy’s The Return of the Native*3, the extravagant personification of the night time heath that opens the novel leads to the assertion that Eustacia Vye, who rises from a mound on the heath to stand outlined in the darkness, is, so to speak, the personification of the personification, its exposure or visible embodiment, so, in Heart of Darkness, all the Africans Marlow meets are visible representatives and symbols of the “it.” Though it may be racist for Marlow (who is not necessarily Conrad, the reader should remember) to see the Africans as an inscrutably “other,” as simple “savages” or “primitives,” when their culture is older than any European one and just as complex or sophisticated, if not more so, this otherness is stressed for the primary purpose of making the Africans visible embodiments and proofs that the “it,” the darkness, is a person. (pp.121-122)
She was savage and superb, wild-eyed and magnificent; there was something ominous and stately in her deliberate progress. And in the bush that had fallen suddenly upon the whole sorrowful land, the immense wilderness, the colossal body of the fecund and mysterious life seemed to look at her, pensive, as though it had been looking at the image of its own tenebrous and passionate soul(…) She stood looking at us without a stir, and like the wilderness itself, with an air of brooding over an inscrutable purpose.
It is female, a colossal body of fecund and mysterious life. Since the wilderness is supposed to represent a mysterious knowledge, “like evil or truth,” this personification does not jibe very well with the “sexist” assertions Marlow makes about the way women in general, for example Marlow’s aunt or Kurtz’s Intended, are “out of it,” invincibly innocent and ignorant. At the least one would have to say that two contradictory sexist myths about women are ascribed to Marlow. One is the European male’s tendency to personify the earth as a great mother, full of an immemorial seductive wisdom. The other is the European male’s tendency to condescend to women as innately incapable of seeing into things as well as men can. (p.122)
*3:I have not read this novel.