"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.