Apples and Eve

Apples and Eve

We all know what apples are: firm, round fruit ranging from tiny crab apples to crunchy eaters to the big, floury cookers. But the word is a very old one, apparently brought here by the North Germans as apfel. In English it appears as pineapple and even oak apple, the galls of which were used to make ink. Further afield, we can find terms such as the apple of discord – a cause of envy and dispute, derived from the golden apple inscribed with ‘to the fairest’ thrown by Eris, god of discord, to Aphrodite, Pallas, and Athena. The apple of Sodom/Dead Sea apple was claimed by the ancients to be fair to look upon but turned to ashes when touched. 

The Dutch call potatoes aardappels, or earth apples, suggesting the term extended to vegetables, or a vague group of edible plants. The pomegranate is an apple with many grains. The Italians call tomatoes golden apples, as the original imports were yellow. There is even a hybrid, pomato made by grafting a tomato plant onto a potato. 

But the definition should be straightforward, as the apple was the fruit that tempted Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. But this is a mistranslation.

I have been reading Ronald Blythe’s wonderful book Word from Wormingford in which he claims that William Tyndal remains more influential than any other English writer, Shakespeare included.”  This is a huge claim. He continues by noting how he gave us “In the beginning was the word”, and is responsible for most of the Authorised Version of the Bible.  His opening up the Bible to commoners was so radical he was martyred at the age of 42. 

Blythe ponders how the apple got into Eden, as Tyndal described it merely as “the fruit of the tree… desired to make one wise”. Somehow it became an apple. Blythe blames St Jerome’s version of Genesis in which malum is used to mean both apple and evil. Malus is the Latin genus of apple, from which malicious is derived. 

The Countdown Begins

The Countdown Begins

The books are completed, and now this website is live, so I am moving here after my 6 year run at texthistory.com. This will be bigger, brighter and more informative, but right now I am unbelievably tired. Wrangling 3 books into 5 formats and getting the cover designed and to required size has seen me blundering round in the dark, bouncing off walls and nursing bruises, but it’s all done.

Now the really hard work begins: selling these strange stories to you, dear readers and to a largely unsuspecting world. For anyone hoping to publish, I can assure you there is nothing like the arrival of your first proof. Of removing the wrapping and seeing your name in print, flicking through the pages that you wrote, the photographs that you took and converted, all in the font and design that you chose. And the cover. The beautiful, unique cover.

Some people talk of their books as being their children. I don’t see that. Because in a strange way they’re not mine at all. Especially with the story of Henry Bridges, it’s more like he came to me and wanted – or needed – his story told. Does that sound weird? I am also mindful of the final line of Henry Miller’s play The Death of a Salesman which ends with something like, attention must be paid to him, he does not deserve to fall into his grave and forgotten.

So maybe my role has been that of a midwife, or even a medium. I am bringing these extraordinary people and their stories into the modern world. As an author I cannot really judge how well I’ve done. That’s up to you, dear readers. Enjoy!

 

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