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

Carol Barton, Ph.D., CPCM cbartonphd1 at verizon.net
Fri Apr 11 20:01:03 EDT 2014


I don't think Shakespeare is "better" than Milton (though he was my first love). I think he's different. I go to Shakespeare for enjoyment--Milton for intellectual challenge--and like a parent who professes to love both children equally,  despite their idiosyncrasies, I love (and have loved) them both.

I like Homer, Vergil, Dante, Ariosto, Mario . . . though I've yet to develop a palate for anything but Joyce's short stories.

Still . . . if I were marooned on a desert island, it would be with Shakespeare and Milton.

Best to all,

Carol Barton


From: Mario A. DiCesare 
Sent: Friday, April 11, 2014 7:52 PM
To: John Milton Discussion List 
Subject: Re: [Milton-L] assumptions about the fruit, a question for john leonard


Dear Hannibal Hamlin,

Screw your courage to, etc., and announce loud and clear that Shakespeare is the greatest writer, bar none, in the history of the world.  I say this as one who has written extensively on Vergil, whose works have always buoyed me up, and who loves nothing better than teaching Homer, Dante, Joyce, among others.  But I keep coming back to Shakespeare.

Good work!

Mario A.DiCesare

On 4/11/2014 7:30 PM, Hannibal Hamlin wrote: 
  I'm afraid I'm desperately far behind in this seemingly inexhaustible thread. Plus, I'm writing from the SAA in St. Louis (how many here, I wonder, think Shakespeare, contra Nigel Smith, is better than Milton?). If the following seems out of place in light of what's gone before, I apologize, but I find myself unsatisfied with the argument that the fruit doesn't matter, which seems the prevailing view. I take the point about the test being about obedience, but still. Milton is such an obsessively gastric writer, I can't believe he doesn't think the fruit itself important. Some things seem beyond absolute proof -- whether the FF is of a totally different kind from the fruit of all the other trees, for instance. (I suppose it might be a Cortland, whereas all the others are Macs and Granny Smiths?) But the effect of eating the fruit is automatic, and physiological. This particular fruit, when eaten and digested, has an effect different from all the others. As others have noted, it is intoxicating. It also seems an aphrodisiac. And whether it's flavor is unique, it is certainly such as to stimulate the appetite (think of whatever you can't eat only one of -- salted peanuts, Ritz crackers, BBQ ribs). One could argue perhaps that these effects are not intrinsic -- Eve's appetite is unsatisfied because fallen, just as she and Adam rise from sex unfulfilled. But Milton is constantly emphasizing food, digestion, even excretion. Others know more than I do about Milton's materialism/monism, but isn't it appropriate that the Fall of Man comes about by eating something that doesn't agree with us? Of course, Adam and Eve disobey God, but his prohibition is not, I think, arbitrary, but connected to what this fruit does. (I know there are loads of theologians who argue differently -- but they also have different views on angelic sex and digestion, chaos and matter.) It's interesting in this light that God's insistence that Adam and Eve must be expelled from Eden describes them as a kind of waste product; what they have consumed and digested has altered them physiologically (though for Milton body and soul are one), so they are no longer a healthy part of the "body" of Eden, but must be purged or excreted:


  But longer in that Paradise to dwell,
  The Law I gave to Nature him forbids:
  Those pure immortal Elements that know
  No gross, no unharmoneous mixture foule,
  Eject him tainted now, and purge him off
  As a distemper, gross to aire as gross,
  And mortal food, as may dispose him best
  For dissolution wrought by Sin, that first
  Distemperd all things, and of incorrupt
  Corrupted. 


  Hannibal







  On Fri, Apr 11, 2014 at 5:21 PM, cbartonphd1 <cbartonphd1 at verizon.net> wrote:

    Good summation,  Oydin!


    Sent from my Samsung Galaxy S®III


    -------- Original message --------

    From: "Uzakova, Oydin Yashinova" 
    Date:04/11/2014 4:28 PM (GMT-05:00) 
    To: John Milton Discussion List 
    Subject: Re: [Milton-L] assumptions about the fruit, a question for john leonard 


    Perhaps the last move could be:




    The "taste" of the fruit of the forbidden tree is "unique" only in so far as it is prohibited from being known without disobeying the creator, because as soon as one tastes the forbidden fruit and thus has a chance to compare its flavor with other fruits, it becomes impossible.  Becoming immediately postlapsarian, this "new" taste cannot be accurately compared to prelapsarian Adam and Eve's tastes of Eden's other fruits. 




    Also, is it completely unthinkable to rephrase God's prohibition the following way: you must not eat the fruit of this particular (apple) fruit tree, growing next to the Tree of Life, nor is there any need for you to want it, since there are so many other similar (apple) fruit trees in the garden.  In other words, if a parent prohibits his children to taste apples from one particular apple tree while allowing them to do so from all of the other apple trees of the same species in the orchard, he still can say "amid the choice/Of all tastes else to please their appetite."  The children would still be tempted to taste the seemingly same apples from that "interdicted" apple tree simply because it was singled out by their parent.  That is why this particular (apple) tree's location is so important since there is no other sign of its difference from other trees of the same species.  That is also why Eve had to be physically brought to it by Satan before she realized that the fruit tree in question was in fact the forbidden one. 









----------------------------------------------------------------------------

    From: milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu <milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu> on behalf of Michael Gillum <mgillum at unca.edu>
    Sent: Friday, April 11, 2014 2:43 PM
    To: John Milton Discussion List
    Subject: Re: [Milton-L] assumptions about the fruit, a question for john leonard 

    I guess no one has laid out Greg's implied argument. This is how I understand it:


    "So easily obeyed amid the tastes / Of all fruits else." A&E have the choice of all flavors different from the flavor of the forbidden fruit. If there were multiple trees of the FF kind bearing the same fruit, they would taste the same as the FF, and so would be forbidden.  However, we know that God singled out one particular tree for prohibition, the one growing next to the Tree of Life. Therefore, it seems that there are not multiple specimens of that kind.




    I haven't figured out what Greg thinks would be Black's last move. --Michael G.


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  -- 

  Hannibal Hamlin
  Associate Professor of English
  Author of The Bible in Shakespeare, now available through all good bookshops, or direct from Oxford University Press at http://ukcatalogue.oup.com/product/9780199677610.do
  Editor, Reformation
  The Ohio State University
  164 West 17th Ave., 421 Denney Hall
  Columbus, OH 43210-1340
  hamlin.22 at osu.edu/
  hamlin.hannibal at gmail.com

   

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