Monday, October 03, 2011

"Do I dare to eat a peach?"


I've been blogging on Ben Hale's novel, The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore, and focusing upon the peach that served as an apple of temptation for Bruno, enticing him to enter the fallen world of humanity. Bruno even asks:
Did I dare to eat a peach? Indeed I did. (page 13)
He's alluding to T.S. Eliot's poem (nearly rhymes with pomme!) "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock," in which the appealing Prufrock poses to himself an overwhelming question -- "Do I dare to eat a peach?" -- as Ben himself also explained the other day:
I slipped the TS Eliot joke in there, which fit so nicely . . . .
I noted in that same blog entry that Ben might conceivably have received an obscure influence from Paradise Lost, but I won't go into details on that again right now since the link will supply that argument. Instead, I'd like to think about Eliot's use of the peach. Another Milton scholar and I began to wonder if Eliot were alluding to the forbidden fruit as a peach, possibly also obscurely influenced by Milton. I did an internet search and found in the British Literature Wiki website that one scholar has indeed suggested that Eliot was referring to the forbidden fruit in asking himself if he dared to eat a peach:
While Eliot only briefly mentions the peach in this poem, it has come to be one of the most critically contested images, in terms of deciphering its meaning. In his book, Ascending the Prufrockian Stair, Robert Fleissner dedicates an entire chapter to offering various interpretations of "Prufrock's Peach." Firstly, he considers the idea that the peach, in this context, could be a reference to the Forbidden Fruit of the biblical Creation story. With this interpretation, Prufrock must choose between knowledge and immortality. This struggle fits in closely with Prufrock's constant grappling with his own mortality. In Prufrock's eyes, he has already eaten the biblical fruit and must now heed the consequences: a burdensome awareness of the world around him and his own approaching death.
The footnote identifies the source more fully: Robert F. Fleissner, Ascending the Prufrockian Stair: Studies in Dissociated Sensibility (Peter Lang: New York, 1988). I'll have to try to get ahold of this book somehow. I've searched online without success, finding only one source that explicitly notes Fleissner's thesis about the peach, namely, a review by D.J. Childs, "Eliot Facts" (Essays in Criticism 39.4 (1989), pp. 348-352 ) :
"Professor Fleissner is interested in . . . a typological analysis of Prufrock's peach as forbidden fruit . . . ." (p. 348)
I've only accessed this one page out of the five, so I don't know if Childs has more to say, but I'll be looking into this more, along with another scholar.

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At 1:11 PM, Anonymous Kevin Malone said...

Sorry if I completely misunderstood you, but is this the book you are looking to buy:

If yes, it seems to be available.

At 1:31 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks for the thoughtfulness. I'm afraid I was ambiguous in expressing myself. I was hoping that the book were itself online, or at least the relevant chapter, since I'd rather not purchase the entire book if I can avoid that. Too little money . . .

Jeffery Hodges

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At 5:28 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

I've just now deleted the following, blatant advertisement:

HI jeffrey,My brother and I genuinely enjoyed reading on this site, I was just interested to know if you trade featured posts? I am always trying to find anyone to make trades with but it's only an idea I would ask.

Mendota Heights Personal Trainer

First of all, Mr. MHPT uses a capital "I" for the second letter in "Hi," then misspells my name with "-rey" -- and adds insult to insult by using an uncapitalized "j" for the first letter of my middle name -- and goes on to pose a ridiculous question about whether or not I "trade . . . posts" (as if that had any meaning!) and pretending that his "brother" along with him enjoyed my "site."

What ineptitude in spamming!

Good-bye, MHPT, forever I hope . . .

Jeffery Hodges

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At 7:10 PM, Blogger dhr said...

You could term Mr MHPT a "peach you," which in my dialect means "moron."

At 7:47 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

He deserves 'impeachment'!

Jeffery Hodges

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At 7:54 PM, Blogger dhr said...

... and being buried in Macchu Peacchu.

At 8:20 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Pitched from the very peach of that mountain!

Jeffery Hodges

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At 3:50 PM, Anonymous Sperwer said...

I don't know about all this peachiness, but this year's crop is so good that we're buying boxes of 12 typically huge Korean peaches every other day.

At 6:48 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

You must have found a better source than we had. Ours tasted like 'fallen' fruit . . .

Jeffery Hodges

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At 7:14 AM, Blogger Lady Kālikā said...

'"Fallen" is the best kind, in my opinion that is...but hey, what the bleep do I know :P

At 7:20 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

You're right, of course, My Lady, for fallen peaches are the most ripe!

Jeffery Hodges

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At 8:41 AM, Blogger Lady Kālikā said...

:) Thanks for sharing your amazingly ripened mind/brain with the rest of us!

At 8:57 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

At my age, I'm thankful that my mind hasn't yet gone rotten . . .

Jeffery Hodges

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