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

John K Leonard jleonard at uwo.ca
Fri Apr 11 12:00:51 EDT 2014


Greg, the obvious objection here is that you need to import the words "sort of", and even after doing that, have to add yet another bracketed phrase, "[but uniquely there]", to make clear that there is only one specimen of this "sort" (which sort of robs the word of its meaning). Better to just let the text speak for itself:
 
                                            Of the fruit
   Of each tree in the garden we may eat,
   But of the fruit of this fair tree amidst
   The garden, God hath said, 'Ye shall not eat
   Thereof '. . . (IX. 659-63)
 
Milton keeps it simple because the command is simple. Do not eat of this tree. Maybe I have missed something, but to my ears the lines I have just quoted (lines to which you directed us)  say nothing whatsoever about either 1) the "sort" of tree that is forbidden (or unforbidden), and 2) nothing whatsoever about the taste of the forbidden fruit (relative to other fruit), which was your original question, posed in in bold print ("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?").  How do these lines bear on that question? The two passages that I quoted are in my view much more relevant to the question, and while neither is conclusive, I think the implication in both passages is that there was no intrinsically "different taste."
 
John Leonard
 
 
 
On 04/11/14, Gregory Machacek <Gregory.Machacek at marist.edu> wrote: 
>   Hi Carol,
> 
> 
> That's one of the passages I considered, and deemed could go either way.  Here's the reading from out of my assumption:  [picking up "various"] "Of the [sorts of] Fruit / Of each [sort of] Tree in the Garden, we may eat / But of the [sort of] Fruit of this fair Tree [but uniquely there]. . . God hath said . . ."  You don't need all of my brackets to see there's nothing in it to force someone who reads it with the assumption I have to abandon that assumption.
> 
> 
> 
> 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: cbartonphd1 
> Sent by: milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu
> Date: 04/11/2014 11:10AM
> Subject: Re: [Milton-L] assumptions about the fruit, a question for john leonard
> 
>  But . . .
> 
> 
> Though "many are the Trees of God that grow/ In Paradise,  and various,  yet unknown / To us . . . Of **this** [particular] Tree we may not taste nor touch / . . . Of the Fruit / Of each Tree in the Garden we may eate, / But of the Fruit of THIS fair Tree amidst [which I read as amiddest--in the center of] / The Garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eate / Thereof, nor shall he touch it, lest ye die." Emphasis mine,  typos courtesy of Android. 
> 
> 
> I think it's the Tree, not the variety of fruit, that matters . . . and pace Greg, she wouldn't have been able to differentiate it by its taste without tasting it . . . ?
> 
> 
> Best to all,
> 
> 
> Carol Barton
> 
> 
> 
> 
>  Sent from my Samsung Galaxy S®III
> 
> 
> 
> -------- Original message --------
> From: John K Leonard 
> Date:04/11/2014 10:51 AM (GMT-05:00) 
> To: John Milton Discussion List 
> 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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