[Milton-L] assumptions about the fruit, a question for john leonard

Salwa Khoddam skhoddam at cox.net
Fri Apr 11 11:19:10 EDT 2014


Greg (if I may)
No, the fruit that Eve ate would not taste different, objectively speaking, but having indulged her illicit desire and broken God's rule, she is a different person now, with senses that have been aroused and intensified in her, her reason being overtaken by the senses, so that the taste is different. Like their postlapsarian love-making. The new intense taste is a consequence of her having sinned; it is not objectively in the fruit of this particular tree.
Salwa
Salwa Khoddam PhD
Professor of English Emerita
Oklahoma City University
Author of *Mythopoeic Narnia:
Memory, Metaphor, and Metamorphoses 
in The Chronicles of Narnia*
skhoddam at cox.net
  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Gregory Machacek 
  To: John Milton Discussion List 
  Sent: Friday, April 11, 2014 10:06 AM
  Subject: Re: [Milton-L] assumptions about the fruit, a question for john leonard


  No, no, no.  That's not our passage, and that's not my question.


    Would the apples (as you would have it) on the trees from which Adam and Eve may eat have (actually, objectively, intrinsically, in themselves, to an objective, unforbidden observer) a different taste from the ones on the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil?



  Greg Machacek
  Professor of English
  Marist College


  -----milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu wrote: -----
  To: John Milton Discussion List <milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>
  From: John K Leonard 
  Sent by: milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu
  Date: 04/11/2014 10:55AM
  Subject: Re: [Milton-L] assumptions about the fruit, a question for john leonard


  I'll be a sport and answer. I  think Eve thought the forbidden fruit tasted different:

                          such delight till then, as seemed,
     In fruit she never tasted, whether true
     Or fancied so, through expectation high
     Of knowledge, nor was godhead from her thought. (9.789-92)

  It is Eve's "expectation" of tasting something special that makes the fruit "seem" different. I admit that there is an equivocation in the narrator's  "seemed" and "whether true", but even that can be read as an equivocation as to whether these are the best apples (in either of the two  senses that have been proposed) that Eve has ever tasted. I do not think that these lines (if they are the ones you plan to spring as your "reveal") clinch the case for the forbidden tree being a unique specimen of its kind. Even you or I might say (and sincerely mean) "that's the best apple I ever tasted."

  John Leonard

  On 04/11/14, Gregory Machacek <Gregory.Machacek at marist.edu> wrote: 
    . . . sensing a lull in our recent storm of exchanges . . .


    May I return to an issue that arose in the course of our discussion?  I had made the claim that Satan's "apples" at 9.585 must mean the more general "fruits" rather than the species-name for genus malus, because if Eve knew the fruit on the forbidden tree as an apple, she would not have needed to be brought to the tree itself to know that the fruit the serpent was discussing was the one on the forbidden tree.  She could right then have said "Oh, we're not allowed to eat apples" (If I'd known my colloquial hypothetical speech was to become a subject line for our e-mail exchange, I'd have been more careful with my verb choice!)


    John Leonard rightly pointed out that that argument rested on the assumption that "the forbidden tree was the only one of its kind."  He indicated that he has "always made the opposite assumption that it was just one of many apple trees that was singled out from the others (and other kinds of tree) by the simple fact of being prohibited."


    I have been searching for textual confirmation that one or the other of our assumptions is correct, and have shared the various passages from PL that seem to me to incline one direction or the other, but have judged each passage ultimately inconclusive on the matter.  But now I have found what I think is conclusive textual evidence.


    The reveal will be the more dramatic, though, if John is willing to be a sport and answer the following question.


    Would the apples (as you would have it) on the trees from which Adam and Eve may eat have a different taste from the ones on the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil?


    Be careful how you answer.  I see checkmate in two moves.


    In my glee to think I might triumph over John Leonard in a battle of close reading, I almost presume to answer for him, "No, of course not, they're both just apples."  But I will let him answer.


    Greg Machacek
    Professor of English
    Marist College


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