[Milton-L] Leonard on O Eve, in evil hour...

Stephen Fallon fallon.1 at nd.edu
Thu Nov 17 13:25:29 EST 2005


Thanks to John Leonard for directing those who might not know it 
toward Ricks' wonderful *Milton's Grand Style*, and for his clear 
analysis of Ricks on 9.647-48.

I agree with everything John says except for his argument for why the 
pun on "excess" ("Fruitless to me, though fruit be here to excess") 
cannot be Eve's.  He writes, "If Eve were knowingly punning on 
'excess' as 'sinful indulgence,' the implication would be that she 
has already decided to fall. But the whole point of her pun on 
'Fruitless' is that she does *not* intend to eat the apple--not yet." 
I agree with Ricks and with John that the pun is not Eve's, but not 
for John's reason.  One could as easily argue that a knowing pun on 
'excess' would fit her as yet to be broken resolve not to eat the 
apple.  Recognizing the eating of the apple as "sinful indulgence" 
fits a resolve not to eat it better than it fits a prior decision to 
eat it.

John is one of the very best readers of Milton, so I write with an 
uneasy sense that I may be missing something.

Steve Fallon




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