[Milton-L] Apple or peach, for one more time?

Salwa Khoddam skhoddam at cox.net
Thu Apr 17 15:23:32 EDT 2014

Here's my reply to your question, whether the forbidden fruit could have been a peach.
Most of us agree that the forbidden fruit is essentially ambiguous, and could have been any sort of fruit, "apple" in a general sense. The sort of fruit it is is not important for the reading of the poem's religious doctrines. Therefore, if that is the case, it could be imagined or thought of as possibly a peach, since the peach has linguistic and etymological traditions associating it with the apple "in a general sense," being a "persicum malum= "Persian apple" and has been used in literary tradition over the ages with these associations in mind by several authors, as you point out in Melville's work. That is all.

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: Tuesday, April 15, 2014 10:31 PM
  Subject: [Milton-L] fellatious and coarticulation

  I can't believe I'm getting sucked into another thread.

  I had resolved to give you all a break from hearing from me after the whole the-fruit's-not-an-apple trudge.

  But in addition to what John Savoie says here, that all a pun needs is a rough similarity, we must remember what he established in his MQ article, and what Salwa shows:  English had no word for fellatio evidenced before 1887.  So if we're going to hear a pun at all it will be through the Latin.  I think the e in fellare is a short e, so if "that" nudges "fallacious" toward "fellacious," all we would need to do is start hearing fell-ay and then the "t" part of "ch" to have the pun start to register.  "All that fall" is not a valid analog, although on the surface, nothing could seem to be closer.  In that phrase, coarticulation would operate through the rhyme.  The "all" and "fall" would fix each other in their normal pronunciation, and together they would turn "that" into "th't"  ("th't" is one of the first words through which I started noticing what I later learned linguists had a name for).

  Please, please remember, though, that I wasn't primarily trying to add evidence for John's article; I'm using this whole case as a pretext for asking a question as to whether a even poet as skilled as Milton could use coarticulation meaningfully, or whether that is too hyper-subtle an aspect of language to be deliberately employed.

  I'm undecided on the pun, but I have this question.  Is "fallacious" sufficiently motivated here if not for the pun?  In what sense is the fruit fallacious, and why is that the feature of it that one would mention here, as its force is being exhaled?

  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>, John K Leonard <jleonard at uwo.ca>
  From: jsavoie at siue.edu
  Sent by: milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu
  Date: 04/15/2014 09:54PM
  Cc: John Milton Discussion List <milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>
  Subject: Re: [Milton-L] lapsarian sex, fallacious, milton's verbal skill (and blake's fruit)

  A pun need not utilize a precise homophone to be effective; it merely needs to
  be close enough to be suggestive.

  John Savoie

  Quoting John K Leonard <jleonard at uwo.ca>:

  > On 04/15/14, Gregory Machacek <Gregory.Machacek at marist.edu> wrote:
  > >   On different sides of the fallacious/fellatio debate:
  > >
  > >
  > >
  > >
  >  Greg goes on to  offer some ingenious ruminations on the "coarticulation" of
  > "that" and "fall" to produce "fell", but to my ears it is the last (not the
  > first) syllable of "fallacious" that presents the biggest obstacle to the
  > obscene pun that John Savoie has proposed. So far as I am aware, there is not
  > (and has never been) an English word "fellatious." If our ears are to be as
  > finely attuned as Greg asks them to be, this  matters. I remain open to
  > persuasion, but I have not yet heard any argument compelling enough to woo me
  > from my initial response, which was  "I too am sceptical." I recognize that
  > Greg was  weighing options, not taking a side in "the . . . debate", but the
  > "coarticulation" evidence carries little weight with me. My point in quoting
  > the Carew poem was not (as Carol Barton seems to infer)  that Milton was
  > similarly rakish; my point was to refute Richard Strier's claim that  "even
  > pornographic poetry [was] remarkably genitally oriented." I do not think that
  > Milton was a pornographic poet (though he did have a taste for bawdy puns, as
  > we know from the prose).
  > Greg's conjecture (I recognize it was nothing more) that "that" might turn
  > "fall" into "fell" encounters another obstacle, it seems to me, in Psalm 145:
  > "the Lord upholdeth all that fall." This biblical verse gave Beckett the
  > title of his radio play All That Fall. Does anyone really hear that as "All
  > that Fell"?
  > John Leonard
  > >
  > >
  > >

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