Dan Sandman

42: The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan

In Adventure, Books, Fiction on 14/10/2016 at 12:00 pm

the-pilgrims-progress-by-john-bunyanIn the seventeenth century, John Bunyan was imprisoned twice for zealously pushing his extreme religious beliefs onto the English people and therefore inciting rebellion. But it seems that his time in jail was well spent, as it was behind bars that he would compose one of the most influential texts in all of world literature The Pilgrim’s Progress. Since it was first controversially released into the world, Bunyan’s seminal allegory has been translated into many languages including Russian and Arabic. It is seen by some literary critics as a grand récit (narrative with grand ideological implications), and by others as the central precursor to the modern novel. It is no doubt a proven classic which has been garnering new readers across the world for century after century.

Taking the form of a vivid dream had by the narrator, Bunyan’s fantastical story follows the many adventures of his generically named hero Christian — character naming is very important because it also describes character traits (e.g. Talkative). On his numerous adventures, Christian comes face to face with many good, bad and indifferent characters and must decide which is the correct spiritual path for him to follow. He must also face the Slough of Despond and navigate his way through Vanity Fair — places invented by Bunyan and still referred to in our times. The whole narrative is accompanied by marginal notes, which more often than not refer to particular passages in the bible.

I sat down with this book and found it surprisingly enjoyable. Although Bunyan’s bible reading is extremely preachy in its over-evangelical tone, it is nonetheless refreshing to read something which so obviously aims to change the way in which we view our own journeys through life. Bunyan totally tares up the rule book and does things in a novel (literally new) way, setting a high standard which has rarely been equaled or surpassed.

A deserved classic.

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