The Pilgrim's Progress: From This World to That Which Is to Come Info

Find the best rated books in Schools & Teaching | Higher & Continuing Education | Studying & Workbooks | Test Preparation and much more. Check out latest releases by John Bunyan,C. J. Lovik and find where to Download The Pilgrim's Progress: From This World to That Which Is to Come Hardcover,Kindle,Audible Audiobook,Mass Market Paperback,MP3 CD,Paperback Online. Read&Download The Pilgrim's Progress: From This World to That Which Is to Come by John Bunyan,C. J. Lovik Online


Thirty all-new, full-page, color illustrations and edited
text for ease of reading make this
the edition of John
Bunyan's classic allegorical tale to own and to give.

For
more than three centuries both Christians and non-Christians, young and
old, have been fascinated by the characters and story of John Bunyan's
The Pilgrim's Progress: From This World to That Which Is to
Come
-regarded as one of the most significant works of English
literature. While keeping the dignity and beauty of Bunyan's language,
editor C. J. Lovik has updated words and phrases for today's
readers.

This deluxe edition of Pilgrim's Progress,
brought to life in forty all-new, full-page, color illustrations by
award-winning illustrator Mike Wimmer, takes readers on a visually
stunning journey with protagonist Christian as he seeks the Celestial
City. Along the way, readers encounter Evangelist, Mr. Worldly Wisdom,
the Interpreter, Hypocrisy, Watchful, Faithful, Talkative, Hopeful,
Ignorance, and others. Through word and picture, readers will better
understand the obstacles and encouragements they will face as they live
out the Christian life this side of heaven.


Average Ratings and Reviews
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Reviews for The Pilgrim's Progress: From This World to That Which Is to Come:

1

September 6, 2016

NOT THE COMPLETE VERSION
I love this book, it is a classic and well worth the read whether you consider yourself a "christian" or not, so when I saw this version for 99¢, including the audio narration, I was thrilled and purchased it right away. Then I started to read it, in the prologue there is a note from some priest who has taken it upon himself to pare down the book by removing all of the "sermons" that he believes slow the story down. While that is fine for some people who may prefer this pared down version, it should be advertised up front as "abridged", which it is not. Had I known I was getting a much less meaningful version of the book, I would never have purchased it, which is why I rated it as 1 star.
4

Apr 23, 2012

In the dawn of the day Reader began his quest for the Great Denoument with a glad heart, his countenance suffused by the Joy of Literature Yet Unread and unburthened by Mercantile Drear. He knew he should soon pass threw Goodreads City which was said to be very Malevolent yet still he feared not and sang out hymns and epithalamions addressed to the Archangels Proust, Joyce and Bolano which should look over him as he ventured. Eftsoons, he met with Mr Worldly Wise, who thrust at him pretty In the dawn of the day Reader began his quest for the Great Denoument with a glad heart, his countenance suffused by the Joy of Literature Yet Unread and unburthened by Mercantile Drear. He knew he should soon pass threw Goodreads City which was said to be very Malevolent yet still he feared not and sang out hymns and epithalamions addressed to the Archangels Proust, Joyce and Bolano which should look over him as he ventured. Eftsoons, he met with Mr Worldly Wise, who thrust at him pretty volumes by such a one as Daniel Brown and Michael Crichton, and then an other one, a young fair maid with a sore sorrowful countenance who gave unto him Stephanie Myers and Suzanne Collins. And Reader stopped by a winding road betimes, and read of these, and soon found himself in the Slough of Despond. Haply Evangelist arrived to yank Reader out of the Slough, and bade him follow him to a standing stone whereon he might make his mark for a Sign, and enter the gate of Goodreads City, which he was eager for. They that met him shewed him to the Hostel of Good Taste and told him of the reviews, the stars and the votes. And lo his eyes were opened to these things and taking a pen and paper he wrote mightily through all that night and beyond of the things he had read, the Crichtons and Browns and Meyers and how they tricked him into the Slough where in his soul had near perished. And Reader took sleep then and woke to find a thousand votes heaped up around his cot, and his heart was light. And in the Scroll of Great Reviewers he was yet written as number three and forty. But yet he was foresworn to climb the Hill of Extreme Difficulty to greet the Archangels Wallace and Gaddis, and clothed with his Armour of Interpretation which the citizens of Goodreads had yet given freely to him, he fixed his Two Edged Sword into its scabbard and sallied forth.
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2

Mar 02, 2008

So you know when you hear that Citizen Kane is the best movie ever because of how revolutionary it was during its time period, and then you watch it and you realize that the key phrase is "during its time period"? Well, reading Pilgrim's Progress is likely to leave many with the same feeling. No doubt one of the greatest modern religious texts in terms of what it provided for early Puritans (an easy and concrete representation of their theology and daily living practices), it leaves a little to So you know when you hear that Citizen Kane is the best movie ever because of how revolutionary it was during its time period, and then you watch it and you realize that the key phrase is "during its time period"? Well, reading Pilgrim's Progress is likely to leave many with the same feeling. No doubt one of the greatest modern religious texts in terms of what it provided for early Puritans (an easy and concrete representation of their theology and daily living practices), it leaves a little to be desired for those modern readers who are not steeped in Puritanical literary history. Don't get me wrong, any book where you actually get to challenge your temptations to a sword fight is pretty cool, but the language and pace of the book removed the excitement from even those scenes. Not to mention there are a few failed analogies in this allegory, especially in part II. Apparently Christian women don't have to fight their own battles of faith, you just have to find your own Mr. Great-heart and tag along for the ride (and be prepared to marry off your kids at a moment's notice). Overall, I would recommend this classic work to those who are trained to appreciate this genre and style (not me obviously), but not so much to anyone else. ...more
2

Jan 09, 2015

Pilgrim's Progress is about two delusional assholes wandering around being dicks to people, so it's basically a takeoff of Don Quixote. But the dreaming narrator seems unconscious of the fact that the pilgrims are both jerks. I suppose it's possible that they're not supposed to be jerks at all, but...no, that can't be right. They're such jerks.

It starts with a guy named Christian abandoning his family to wander off in search of a magical city. "His wife and children...began to cry after him to Pilgrim's Progress is about two delusional assholes wandering around being dicks to people, so it's basically a takeoff of Don Quixote. But the dreaming narrator seems unconscious of the fact that the pilgrims are both jerks. I suppose it's possible that they're not supposed to be jerks at all, but...no, that can't be right. They're such jerks.

It starts with a guy named Christian abandoning his family to wander off in search of a magical city. "His wife and children...began to cry after him to return, but the man put his fingers in his ears, and ran on, crying Life! Life! Eternal life!" It's pretty funny, in a mean kind of way.

So he takes off and immediately falls into the Slough of Despond (translation: "Marsh of Bummers"), and we immediately see that he's not only a dick (see above) but not very bright. He flails away through the mud, and as he's finally struggling out of it, some other guy comes by like what's up, and Christian is all "as I was going thither I fell in here," and the dude is like, "But why did you not look for the steps?" Christian's all, "There were steps?" Womp womp.

And then he runs across some virgins. "Come, good Christian, since we have been so loving to you, to receive you in our house this night..." Woohoo, virgins! I guess it was pretty smart after all for him to run out on his family.

He picks up his very own Sancho Panza along the way, a dude named Faithful - people have funny names in this book - and they recognize kindred dick spirits in each other; they will have great fun being mean to everyone else they meet for the rest of the book. Right away, for example, they run into a dude named Talkative, and they're just pricks to him for basically no reason. I guess Talkative's name is ironic or something because he actually does very little of the talking, and whenever he does open his mouth they just bag on him mercilessly:Faithful:Some cry out against sin even as the mother cries out against her child in her lap, when she calleth it slut and naughty girl, and then falls to hugging and kissing it....The proverb is true of you which is said of a whore, to wit, that she is a shame to all women; so are you a shame to all professors.
Talkative: Since you are ready...to judge as rashly as you do, I cannot help but conclude that you are some peevish or melancholy man, not fit to be discourse with. Talkative has done nothing to infer that he's a sinner. Christian has heard rumors about him, that's all, and Faithful is like okay, good enough! And then they ditch him.

Anyway, so then they pass through Vanity Fair, which has all kinds of stuff for sale, but they're like "We buy the truth!" which doesn't really make any sense but fine, save your money. Unfortunately the merchants are pissed off about that, so they torture and burn Faithful to death, which you're like holy shit, where did that come from? It's pretty gross. Luckily he's replaced by a guy named Hopeful who's exactly the same as Faithful in every way, so...whatever? If Christian's going to never mention Faithful again after watching him get tortured to death, I guess I won't either.

So they ditch another guy or two, and sing some shitty songs - their idea of a fun chat is to sing shitty songs - and then Christian is all "Oooh, shortcut!" and of course they're captured by a giant and chained up in his dungeon for like a week, and he's about to kill them when - get this - suddenly Christian is like oh shit, I totally forgot, I have a magic key with me that will open anything. This is another ongoing theme: Christian just forgetting shit. It'll come up again later. So they unlock their chains and amble off, and Christian's like I know the way back, and Hopeful is like you know what, maybe I'll lead the way for a while, homie.Christian: Who could have thought that this path should have led us out of the way?
Hopeful: I was afraid on it at the very first, and therefore gave you that gentle caution.They should have named him "Passive Aggressive." They get lost again in no time, and once again they're eventually like oh shit, "They also gave us a note of directions about the way, for our more sure finding thereof, but therein we have also forgotten to read." It's a miracle these two bumbling nincompoops ever make it anywhere at all.

And then there's another case of them ditching a perfectly nice guy. His name is Ignorance, of all things, and he's like "I'm a holy pilgrim too!" but Christian is all,Why, or by what, art thou persuaded that thou hast left all for God and heaven?
Ignorance: My heart tells me so.
Christian: The wise man says, "He that trusts his own heart is a fool." (Prov. 28:26)
Ignorance: This is spoken of an evil heart, but mine is a good one...I will never believe that my heart is thus bad.
Christian: Therefore thou never hadst one good thought concerning thyself in thy life.
Ignorance: That is your faith, but not mine; yet mine, I doubt not, is as good as yours, though I have not in my head so many whimsies as you. Look, here's the thing: it's not this dude's fault his parents named him Ignorance. It was a dick move on their part, and sure, if it was me I might come up with a nickname like Igny or something, but I feel like Christian and Hopeful are judging him more by the name than by the perfectly innocuous things he says. This is an ongoing theme - people with bummer names getting shat on for it - and it just seems hella uncool.

Anyway, Christian and Hopeful respond by wandering off while chanting at him, "Well, Ignorance, wilt thou yet foolish be, To slight good counsel, ten times given thee?" Actually chanting at him. It's moments like this that led George Bernard Shaw to describe it as "a consistent attack on morality and respectability, without a word that one can remember against vice and crime."

Later on Ignorance will get to the gates of Heaven and it turns out that Christian and Hopeful are right: he totally doesn't get in. He is instead bound and thrown straight into Hell, so that sucks for him, and if you thought that this was going to be a book where Christian and Hopeful learn a valuable lesson at the end about not being dicks to absolutely everyone, this ending isn't going to satisfy you any more than Don Quixote's did.

Because it turns out that the God of John Bunyan actually is Christian's God. This is the menacing, Puritan God our American forefathers sailed to America shrieking about - the one Sinners are in the Angry Hands of - and I don't care for Him. He is too much of a dick for me.

The book itself has its moments. It's vividly written; there are exciting parts; it's not boring. But it's nowhere near as good as its exact contemporary Paradise Lost, which leads you to wonder about its enduring popularity. Is it just possible that Christians are so fond of it because it's quite a bit simpler than Milton?

Because the fact is, Christian is not very bright. ...more
4

Nov 30, 2010

991. The pilgrim's progress, John Bunyan (1628 - 1688)
The Pilgrim's Progress from This World, to That Which Is to Come is a 1678 Christian allegory written by John Bunyan. It is regarded as one of the most significant works of religious English literature, has been translated into more than 200 languages, and has never been out of print. It has also been cited as the first novel written in English.
عنوانها: سیر و سلوک زائر: مقایسه تطبیقی عرفان اسلام و مسیحیت؛ سیر و سلوک سالک؛ نویسنده: جان بانی ین ‎991. The pilgrim's progress, John Bunyan (1628 - 1688)
The Pilgrim's Progress from This World, to That Which Is to Come is a 1678 Christian allegory written by John Bunyan. It is regarded as one of the most significant works of religious English literature, has been translated into more than 200 languages, and has never been out of print. It has also been cited as the first novel written in English.
عنوانها: سیر و سلوک زائر: مقایسه تطبیقی عرفان اسلام و مسیحیت؛ سیر و سلوک سالک؛ نویسنده: جان بانی ین؛ تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز بیست و سوم ماه جولای سال 2003 میلادی
عنوان: سیر و سلوک زائر: مقایسه تطبیقی عرفان اسلام و مسیحیت؛ نوشته: جان بانی ین؛ ترجمه: گلنار حامدی؛ کشخصات نشر: تهران، مدحت، 1381، در 414 ص؛ فروست: ادیان و عرفان 02؛ شابک: 9649230505، کتابنامه از ص 411 تا 414، عنوان دیگر مقایسه تطبیقی عرفان اسلام و مسیحیت، موضوع : داستانهای نویسندگان انگلیسی سده های شانزدهم و هفدهم میلادی
عنوان دوم: سیر و سلوک سالک؛ نوشته: جان بانیان؛ برگردان: امین راستی بهبهانی، مشخصات نشر: تهران، پیام امروز، 1390، در 215 ص، شابک: 9789645706577،؛
داستان با یک خواب آغاز می‌شود و آن شخص می‌فهمد که باید از شهری که در آن هست (شهر فنا) سفر کند به شهر آسمانی، که تمام ماجراها که بسیار معنوی و دقیق هستند در این راه برای او رخ می‌دهد. ا. شربیانی ...more
3

Aug 27, 2007

I read this book during my second deployment to Iraq as well and it took me quite a while to finish it. I had seen this book referenced often and I wanted to read it on my own. The overall consensus is that it is a very compelling book and will pull at your soul's emotional strings with its simplicity and candor. But also there were three major hurdles to finishing this book--for me, at least:

It was first published in 1678 so it is not an easy read. The diction is alien to me, but also one does I read this book during my second deployment to Iraq as well and it took me quite a while to finish it. I had seen this book referenced often and I wanted to read it on my own. The overall consensus is that it is a very compelling book and will pull at your soul's emotional strings with its simplicity and candor. But also there were three major hurdles to finishing this book--for me, at least:

It was first published in 1678 so it is not an easy read. The diction is alien to me, but also one does not fall into the parlance of Mr. Bunyan's time as easily as even the made-up language of A Clockwork Orange. Here is an example of the text: "Mercy. Then said Mercy, I confess my ignorance: I spake what I understood not: I acknowledge that thou doest all things well." Yikes. Also, the original was not written like a screenplay so it is at times confusing who is speaking to whom. Luckily, the Penguin Classics version marks all dialog with the speaker as a preface in italics.

Secondly, the allegory is very simple. The characters names are the likes of: "Mr. Great-Heart, Mr. Timorous, Mr. Feeble-Minded, the Giant Despair," etc. The situations that all the characters face are definitely unique, but not so riveting as a result of surprise. This barrier for me though is acceptable: the stark simplicity of the journey actually increases the voracity of Bunyan's words. The story is not for the sake of story-telling; the allegory actually need not be so imaginative in this case.

Finally, and this may seem superficial, but Bunyan's poetry skills are pretty awful. The poem opens with a long bit of rhyming poetry that almost made me quit reading. Ironically, the poem is an apology of Bunyan's allegorical shortcomings. I still didn't enjoy reading the poems. I actually found myself skipping even the shortest attempts at rhyme in the plot by the first 30 pages of the book. I find it interesting that Bunyan's prose can be so powerful that he felt the need to attempt ABAB style poetry in his work. Maybe he felt the need to counter the beautiful epic style of John Milton's Paradise Lost (published first about 12 years before TPP). I don't know, but either way--it is a serious barrier.

Bunyan earns most of his Paul Dollars (approximately worth 5 Shrewt bucks or 1000 Stanley Nickles, for you Office fans) in the transcendence of the story into the heart of the Christian reader. I felt Bunyan's soul guiding Christian through his pilgrimage. At the beginning of the story when Christian tells his plans to his family, they chastise him and mock him--after ignoring him of course. As he finally departs alone, his family and neighbors snub him and hurl curses from both sides of the road. This forces Christian to "put his fingers in his ears" and run as quickly as possible away from the City of Destruction. You can't help but be captivated by Christian's steadfast loyalty to his mission: going to Heaven, or the "land beyond the river that has no bridge."

Here are some examples of Bunyan's greatest words:

"No man can tell what in combat attends us but he that hath been in the battle himself." (Page 113) after he fights the demon Apollyon.

In reply to Christan's query, "tell me particularly what effect this [a vision of Christ) had upon your spirit," Hopeful answers with conviction that almost wrought me with tears:

"It made me greatly ashamed of the vileness of my former life, and confounded me with the sense of mine own ignorance; for there never came thought into mine heart before now that showed me so the beauty of Jesus Christ. It made me love a holy life, and long to do something for the honour and glory of the name of the Lord Jesus. Yea, I thought that had I now a thousand gallons of blood in my body, I could spill it all for the sake of the Lord Jesus." (Page 125)

Awesome.

This book was a good spiritual book for me at this time in my life. I recommend it for anyone who wishes to keep the fire of their faith burning.
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5

September 24, 2013

Ian Myles Slater on: Bunyan's Pilgrims in a Digital Book
I reviewed the Oxford World's Classics print version of this book back in 2004. Alas, Amazon (or, probably, its software) not only has not connected the reviews from that paperback to the matching OWC Kindle edition, it has left them high and dry on a duplicate product page, which claims that only used copies of the in-print paperback are available.

I can't do anything about most of the dozen or so reviews left stranded there, some of them excellent (except refer you to them), but I can post a slight revision of my own treatment, concluding with some comments on how the E-book version differs from the print edition (which was the point of my original plan, before I discovered the odd discrepancy).

Fortunately, neither page has (obvious) reviews of other editions in the mix -- a serious problem with some other pages, where in many instances one has little idea of exactly which form of the book is being reviewed. (And there is considerable room for confusion. Both Kobo and Kindle offer sixty-some digital versions -- I haven't bothered to check NOOK or other formats, or count hardcovers and paperbacks, many out of print.)

John Bunyan was an astonishing man, a working-class genius who, while producing the last great medieval-style allegories in English, helped invent the English novel, apparently without intending either. The bulk of his writings fell into the obscurity of most seventeenth century theological tractates, but a few have remained current, and "The Pilgrim's Progress" (1678) has been of outstanding importance, for a variety of reasons. It was an immediate popular success, even appearing in French and Dutch editions within a few years, and being reprinted in Puritan Boston, where Bunyan's Baptist teachings would have been unwelcome. The second (1678) and third (1679) printings contained expansions.

A fraudulent "Second Part" helped motivate Bunyan to produce his own sequel (1684), usually published with the First Part ever since. (There have been separate editions, some currently available in digital form.) This new set of adventures concerns the family which "Christian," the original Pilgrim, left behind in his own journey to the Celestial City. (This being an allegory, he was represented as literally following one of Christ's injunctions -- but readers aware of Bunyan's biography will recall that during his imprisonment he had, rather literally, "abandoned" his real family.)

"The Pilgrim's Progress from This World to That Which is to Come" is, in fact, one of the most widely read works to come out of the era of the English Civil War, Restoration, and Glorious Revolution (which Bunyan did not live quite long enough to see). The number of actual readers, in English and many other languages, certainly exceeds those of Milton, Hobbes, or Locke, possibly all of them together. It is also one of the most misunderstood. In his own time Bunyan (1628-88) was regarded as a dangerous radical; he wrote the first part of "Pilgrim's Progress" while imprisoned for defying authority by refusing to promise to give up preaching. The issue was as much political and social as religious and ecclesiastical; the post-Restoration gentry could fear, but not accept or forgive, the pretensions of a social inferior. (In the age of panic over the "Papist Plot," Bunyan's treatment of the ramshackle "Giant Pope" as nearly harmless is striking: might it be read as an implied attack on the fear-mongering of the Anglican establishment? Perhaps not.)

In the late eighteenth century, William Blake still responded to Bunyan the religious and political Dissenter, and the theologically astute recognized him as expounding a particular doctrine, but distance in time increasingly made him seem not only pious, but even harmless. In the nineteenth century, "The Pilgrim's Progress," long seen as suitable reading for children, was available to the working class in cheap editions, with the approval of their "betters." It found a receptive readership; but it is now clear that many of those readers recognized, as George Bernard Shaw later said, that the sins and failings Bunyan attacked were mainly those of people with money and power. Or, at least, their allegorical representatives always seem to be, or behave like, landowners, merchants, and magistrates, while their victims are working men and women.

Bunyan was indeed mostly concerned with problems of salvation (by faith) and predestination (of which you can never be certain), but the allegorical universe Bunyan presents is solidly grounded in material and social reality. Each soul must seek salvation -- the message of self-help, which the proper Victorians loved. But the little community of believers, the congregation of the true faithful, carried another message for the working class -- Organize!

This Bunyan has yet to be fully digested by popular culture. There are still a multitude of complacent editions, variously inexpensive, lavish, abridged, retold, glossed theologically or linguistically, or otherwise brought into line with some perceived need, and marketed for (mainly Protestant) Christians in search of edification. (It has found many Catholic, and apparently, some Muslim readers, as well, which is another story.)

Those who need a full critical text of this famous work will consult Roger Sharrock's 1960 edition in the Oxford English Texts series, preferably in its revised printing of 1975, and probably in a library (so far as I can tell it is out of print). It was intended as a revision of a 1928 edition by J.B. Wharey, but it broke new ground in Bunyan studies, by returning to the earliest editions of the two parts whenever possible. This was extremely important in restoring the integrity of the text, for reasons I described years ago in a separate (now somewhat buried) review of Sharrock's very lightly modernized "popular version" for the Penguin Classics (1986, with revisions, 1987), originally in the Penguin English Library series (1965). Briefly, Sharrock restored Bunyan's speaking (or, more exactly, perhaps, *preaching*) style to a text which had been worked over in the interest of "proper grammar," sometimes without much regard for what Bunyan was saying in the seventeenth-century vernacular.

Those serious readers or students who wanted a reliable edition, but didn't need the full apparatus, used to have available another, closely related, edition: N.H. Keeble's adaptation of Sharrock's Oxford text for the World's Classics series (published by Oxford University Press; reissued under the Oxford World's Classics imprint). This was replaced in 2003 with the present edition by W.R. Owen, which replaces it in the Oxford World's Classics line, and is likewise based on Sharrock's work.

These Oxford popular editions follow Sharrock's critical text, in fact rather more closely than Sharrock's own Penguin edition -- Owens even with some additional reversions to first edition readings, where he finds them comprehensible without emendation. They offer introductions, chronologies, notes, and glossaries directed more to the common reader or student, explaining seventeenth-century history and theology, as well as explicating Bunyan's language. All three were admirable examples of scholarly editions adapted for the ordinary reader, which is helpful, because Sharrock's main edition seems to be out of print. Keeble's edition seemed to be available for through Amazon when Owens' first appeared, but Oxford, unlike Penguin, doesn't seem to keep multiple versions of a title in print in its "Classics" line. (From time to time it may show up second-hand -- possibly confused with its successor.)

[Note, February 2015: Thanks in part to Amazon's lumping together different editions, it slipped my notice that Penguin Classics released a new edition of "Pilgrim's Progress" in 2008. This one was edited by Roger Pooley.]

Since I then had copies of both the Penguin and the old World's Classics editions, I originally hesitated over acquiring Owen's new version. It offered an expansion of Keeble's chronology and notes, and a new introduction, with a bibliography consisting mainly of recent studies (from 1980 on). Definitely an improvement, although not a blockbuster. The big difference, however, is that Owens provides the only illustrations published with the text in Bunyan's lifetime, and the verse captions he provided to them. This is not only interesting; it provides some explicit statements about the text by the author, not otherwise readily available. The illustrations themselves are not impressive -- hardly in a class with those by Blake and Cruikshank, among many others of varying degrees of skill and insight. But they reflect a real, not imaginary, seventeenth-century environment, and are a worthwhile addition to the available evidence.

When I noticed the Kindle version of this edition, I wondered how one of the problems posed by "Pilgrim's Progress" had been handled. The book as originally published had two sets of marginal notes, one set made up of abbreviated Biblical references identifying Bunyan's more literal Biblical quotations and allusions, the other a set of comments on the narrative, some identifying allegorical figures, others serving as the equivalent of chapter-headings (often to very short "chapters"). These are usually presented in italics.

The Penguin Classics edition maintains the second set of marginal comments, but the Biblical citations, when included, appear as back-of-the book end-notes.

Owen's OWC edition, (like Keeble's edition before it), maintained both sets in their original positions. This arrangement is not readily compatible with Kindle single-column format (and isn't much used in print editions these days, either). Hyperlinking them (as was done to Owen's end-notes) was going to be an unmitigated distraction for the reader.

The compromise reached was to break up the text, with the citations and comments printed below them. This is not a perfect solution -- some sections run longer than a single Kindle "page" -- but I find it easy to get used to. One small problem is that the comments appear in roman, not italic, type, so the reader has to be careful not to confuse them (or the captions to the illustrations) with the main body of the text.
2

Jul 18, 2013

Midway upon the journey between my home and work did I open the case of my kindle, and in that case I did there find a kindle. Then, I turned this kindle on and lo! what there did I find? The Pilgrim’s Progress. And so mine eyes began to read the screen. Thus, I did set upon another journey at that time, traveling from the beginning of the book to the end. And there I did find many new acquaintances.

My first companion I came upon was Mr. Amusement. But he quickly left me, and then did Mr. Midway upon the journey between my home and work did I open the case of my kindle, and in that case I did there find a kindle. Then, I turned this kindle on and lo! what there did I find? The Pilgrim’s Progress. And so mine eyes began to read the screen. Thus, I did set upon another journey at that time, traveling from the beginning of the book to the end. And there I did find many new acquaintances.

My first companion I came upon was Mr. Amusement. But he quickly left me, and then did Mr. Boredom come along. Occasionally Mr. Interest dropped by, as did Mr. Entertainment, but Mr. Boredom was my most faithful companion from beginning to end. When finally I did reach the end, a beautiful man did appear called Mr. Relief, and his good friend Mr. Thank-God-This-Is-Over did appear as well. Yea, and we all fell to laughing.
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5

Sep 05, 2008

The Pilgrim's Progress is a wonderful work written by a 17th-century Puritan, John Bunyan, from his prison cell in a time of persecution.

J.C. Ryle wrote of this book, “I do not doubt that the one volume of Pilgrim’s Progress, written by a man who knew hardly any book but his Bible, and was ignorant of Greek and Latin, will prove in the last day to have done more for the benefit of the world, than all the works of the schoolmen put together.”

The Pilgrim's Progress is a wonderful allegory of The Pilgrim's Progress is a wonderful work written by a 17th-century Puritan, John Bunyan, from his prison cell in a time of persecution.

J.C. Ryle wrote of this book, “I do not doubt that the one volume of Pilgrim’s Progress, written by a man who knew hardly any book but his Bible, and was ignorant of Greek and Latin, will prove in the last day to have done more for the benefit of the world, than all the works of the schoolmen put together.”

The Pilgrim's Progress is a wonderful allegory of the beginning, progression, and conclusion of the true Christian life. Rich in Biblical theology, it tells the story of the trials, temptations, and triumphs of a man named Christian in his pilgrimage from the City of Destruction to the Celestial City and eternal life. Many of the events we read include universal tales about human struggles through hardship with which anyone can identify.

Some of the places through which we follow Christian in his pilgrimage include the Delectable Mountains, Hill of Difficulty, Palace Beautiful (an allegory of the local Christian congregation), Slough of Despond, Doubting Castle, Valley of Humiliation, Hill Clear, Vanity Fair, Valley of the Shadow of Death, By-Path Meadow, the dangerous Enchanted Ground, River of Death, etc.

Sin makes this world a dry and weary land. The road to the Celestial City is always an ascent (Psalm 24:3). However, the Lord Jesus Christ is a place of shelter and refuge. He is the Shelter from the storm of affliction and rain.

The Pilgrim’s Progress encourages me that by God’s grace, albeit whichever valleys through which I may pass, whatever slough into which I may have fallen, whatever rivers to ford, or whichever Hill of Difficulty I may climb in my journey … my Guide is ever watchful, my Deliverer unfailing, and He is indeed faithful in keeping and persevering His people till they arrive home at the Celestial City—that glorious, Heavenly City built not by the hands of man—whose Maker and Builder is God.

Every Christian can learn and be encouraged by the Biblical instructions from this story. ...more
5

Oct 09, 2009

I have a few versions of this on my shelves from the nicely bound hard back to paper backs I can hand out (you know "loan").

This is (as I'm sure most already know) an allegorical journey depicting the struggles of living the Christian life. John Bunyan was a Baptist imprisoned when it was against the law to be a be Baptist. He was imprisoned for (aprox.) twelve years for refusing to convert to Anglicanism (Church of England)...this sort of thing by the way is the reason for the first amendment, I have a few versions of this on my shelves from the nicely bound hard back to paper backs I can hand out (you know "loan").

This is (as I'm sure most already know) an allegorical journey depicting the struggles of living the Christian life. John Bunyan was a Baptist imprisoned when it was against the law to be a be Baptist. He was imprisoned for (aprox.) twelve years for refusing to convert to Anglicanism (Church of England)...this sort of thing by the way is the reason for the first amendment, not a worry that a child would be asked to pray when their parent is an atheist or the fear that "IN God We Trust" might end up on a coin.

While he was imprisoned Bunyan wrote this book. Even if you disagree with his doctrine ( I and many other Christians do in some places) this work is well worth reading.

Pilgrim lives in the City of Destruction. He's one of the few who realizes that the City of Destruction is actually destined for destruction. He learned this by "reading the book in his hand". Setting out for the Celestial City he must first go to and through the Wicket Gate and to the Cross. There the huge burden that weighs him down, (his sin) falls away and his name is changed to Christian.

The book then follows Christian's journey, in allegorical form giving account of his trials, his mistakes and ultimate destination.

The book was written in 1678 and sometimes the language may stymy a bit, but it's a wonderful book. Even if the theology may not be spot on for all Christians it is true to the basic teachings. It will encourage Christians and by existing at all endorses freedom of speech. ...more
0

Feb 08, 2012

We used to sing He who would true valour see at my secondary modern school. In fact it was the only song we'd ever sing in school assemblies. We'd sing it in dire, dirge like manner, deep in the Slough of Despond of that Vanity Fair of adolescent school days and not like the hero who was ready to march through the Valley of the Shadow of Death to take on hobgoblins, hypocrites and the demands of life after the dreaded Eleven Plus.

Bunyan was active in the period of the Republic and the We used to sing He who would true valour see at my secondary modern school. In fact it was the only song we'd ever sing in school assemblies. We'd sing it in dire, dirge like manner, deep in the Slough of Despond of that Vanity Fair of adolescent school days and not like the hero who was ready to march through the Valley of the Shadow of Death to take on hobgoblins, hypocrites and the demands of life after the dreaded Eleven Plus.

Bunyan was active in the period of the Republic and the Restoration which saw upheaval both in terms of religion as well as politics as described in The World Turned Upside Down radical ideas during the English Revolution and was inspired to write after a brief spell of imprisonment.

It nice to turn to Bunyan after Paradise Lost or even the Memoirs of the Life of Colonel Hutchinson and to read something written by somebody who was literate, but in comparison hardly educated but no less engaged and swept up by the spirit of their times. The still small voice of a member of a minor religious group of low social status has carried along way through the English language. It is testament too to the power of the Bible in the imagination and how what are really alien and remote narratives can be, have been and no doubt are, taken on and continually reused in diverse times and places to explain peoples sense of themselves and their place in the world.

This particular edition includes a sequel to The Pilgrim's Progress. Proof is any were needed that the mad passion for sequels has threatened to infect all writers since earliest times. The sequel features Christian's wife and children on their pilgrim. Sadly on account of their being women and children they don't get to fight hobgoblins. ...more
5

July 23, 2012

Pilgrims Progress
A very unique and classic edition with features for a new generation. I was surprised to learn that this book has augmented the story of Prilgrim's Progress by adding bible passages to various portions of the story and also has given the story in sections not unlike chapters. There are also numerious b & w illustrations which are quite beautiful in themselves. All in all a very intertaining and readable book. The original story written in old style language is still used here but the reader will find a dictionary in the back to help with the understanding of same.
3

Apr 23, 2012

A Response to Paul Bryant's Review:

http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/...


Mr. Honest

Then it came to pass a while after, that there was a post in the town that inquired for Mr. Honest Paul Bryant.

So he came to the house where he was, and delivered to his hand these lines: “Thou art commanded to be ready against this day seven-night, to present thyself before thy Lord at his Father’s house.

“And for a token that my message is true, all the daughters of music, even the mothers of invention, shall A Response to Paul Bryant's Review:

http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/...


Mr. Honest

Then it came to pass a while after, that there was a post in the town that inquired for Mr. Honest Paul Bryant.

So he came to the house where he was, and delivered to his hand these lines: “Thou art commanded to be ready against this day seven-night, to present thyself before thy Lord at his Father’s house.

“And for a token that my message is true, all the daughters of music, even the mothers of invention, shall be brought low.” Eccles. 12:4.

Then Mr. Honest Paul Bryant called for his friends, and said unto them, “I die, but shall make no will. You can have all of my books, even the fat ones that stop the doors.

“As for my honesty, it shall go with me; let him that comes after be told of this, that I have lived a long life and read a lot of books, but I have still not read William Gaddis or David Foster Wallace.”

When the day that he was to be gone was come, he addressed himself to go over the river.

Now the river at that time over-flowed its banks in some places; but Mr. Honest Paul Bryant, in his lifetime, had spoken to one Good-Conscience Manny Rayner to meet him there, the which he also did, and lent him his hand, and so helped him get his leg over, as he had been wont to do.

The last words of Mr. Honest Paul Bryant were, “Grace reigns!” So he left the world, and Manny was happy, because he would continue to reign number one on God’s own Earth, most especially in England.

Mr. Valiant-for-Truth

After this it was noised abroad that Mr. Valiant-for-Truth Ian Graye was taken with a summons by the same post as the other, and had this for a token that the summons was true, “That his pitcher was broken at the fountain.” Eccles. 12:6 (or was it Bluebottle?).

He did analyse this message greatly and at length (exceeding 20,000 characters) and when he understood it, he called for his friends, and told them of it.

Then said he, “I am going to my Father’s; and though with great difficulty I have got hither, by reading William Gaddis and David Foster Wallace and, yea, even Don DeLillo and Thomas Pynchon, yet now I do not repent me of all the trouble I have been at to arrive where I am.

“My sword I give to him or her (but preferably her) that shall succeed me in my pilgrimage, and my courage and skill to him or her that can get it. And it shall most likely be a youth called Steve or Stephen, or a damsel called (Jenn)ifer or Jenn(ifer) or some such.

“My marks and scars I carry with me, to be a witness for me that I have fought His battles who will now be my rewarder. “

When the day that he must go hence was come, many accompanied him to the river-side, into which as he went, he said, “Death, where is thy sting?”

And as he went down deeper, he said, “Grave, where is thy victory?” 1 Cor. 15:55.

GodReads

So Mr. Valiant-for-Truth Ian Graye passed over, and all the trumpets sounded for him on the other side. As did the strumpets who had ended their travails in Heaven.

And when he did arrive there and wander around, he did say, “My Lord, there are people here in Heaven who did not read William Gaddis and David Foster Wallace and Don DeLillo and Thomas Pynchon. Nor have I been able to locate any one of these fine Authors in this Heavenly precinct.”

And the Lord did say of Gaddis, “He shall gather no Recognitions in Heaven. For it is said, God is great, not Gaddis.”

And of DeLillo, He did say, “He is safely in an Underworld of his own manufacture.”

So too did He remark of Pynchon, "I am told he has been distracted by some beings from the planetoid Katspiel."

And of Wallace, the Lord did say with considerable gravity, “Alas poor Wallace, I knew him, Lothario, a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy. But nineteen score and eight end-notes? Ya gotta be kiddin' me, right?”

And Mr. Valiant-for-Truth Ian Graye did wonder about the Lord’s Lower East Side accent. ...more
5

Sep 01, 2007

simply amazing. There is a reason why many literary critics consider this the best Christian book/read next to the Bible. This book although not a difficult read compared to other literary classics will definitely challenge you with its many allegories and metaphors of the Christian life. For anyone who thinks the Christian life is a soft cushy way needs to read this book.
4

Apr 25, 2018

Classic Christain Allegory from a contemporary of Milton? Or an upbeat adventure fantasy with monster slaying, epic quests, moral quandaries, and much deceit?

It's very easy to fall back on this as a tool for moral teaching especially since the lessons being learned are all in the names of the characters, but I am forced to remember that this kind of everyman allegory has a long, long tradition in literature.

I'd rather see this as an easy to read upbeat fantasy adventure featuring first The Classic Christain Allegory from a contemporary of Milton? Or an upbeat adventure fantasy with monster slaying, epic quests, moral quandaries, and much deceit?

It's very easy to fall back on this as a tool for moral teaching especially since the lessons being learned are all in the names of the characters, but I am forced to remember that this kind of everyman allegory has a long, long tradition in literature.

I'd rather see this as an easy to read upbeat fantasy adventure featuring first The Christian who goes on without his family to have adventures and his death AND THEN to have the second half be the rest of his family following down the same path, albeit somewhat differently.

The fact is... it's fun. Ignore all the religion stuff for a moment. Read it as a story. It's STILL FUN. Epic quest time!

It's also a pretty decent antidote to your normal GrimDark fantasy binge. :) ...more
3

Jan 16, 2010

Fascinating allegory about man’s search for salvation. The fact that this was first published in 1678 by John Bunyan (1628-1688) and its message still rings true up to now makes this an appropriate read for those who believe in life after death. The only problem is that if you hate classics, then you will find this a struggle to read. Methinks however, that if you like novels with pilgrimage as theme (Paolo Coelho’s Pilgrimage is a good example) or those even crusade adventures like Lord of the Fascinating allegory about man’s search for salvation. The fact that this was first published in 1678 by John Bunyan (1628-1688) and its message still rings true up to now makes this an appropriate read for those who believe in life after death. The only problem is that if you hate classics, then you will find this a struggle to read. Methinks however, that if you like novels with pilgrimage as theme (Paolo Coelho’s Pilgrimage is a good example) or those even crusade adventures like Lord of the Rings, Sword in a Stone, etc., you might find this interesting. Just substitute Celestial City as the destination instead of Mordor (LOTR) and salvation (instead of excalibur (Sword in a Stone) and they are all just the same banana.

The story is divided into 2 parts. The first part has Christian, the father, who dreams one night of a book saying that he will die in pain if he does not find salvation. In that dream, a man called Evangelist has told him that salvation can be found in Celestial City. In the morning, he asks his wife and children if they want to accompany him. They refused. So Christian was joined by two of his neighbors, Obstinate and Pliable but later, the first one goes back. Then soon after experiencing the Slough of Despond, Pliable goes back too to the town where they originate. What follows is the story of Christian’s journey and the people he meets along the way: Help, Worldly Wiseman, Formalist, Hypocrisy, Discretion, Piety, Prudence, Charity, Goodwill, Interpreter, Shining Ones, Apollyon (the devil), Faithful, Talkative, Mr. By-ends, Demas, Giant Despair, Diffidence, Temporary, Ignorance, Flatterer, Atheist, and Hopeful.

Since the first part is about the father, the second is about his family taking the same route to Celestial City. Christian’s wife, Christiana and their sons: Matthew, Joseph, Samuel and James, change their minds and follow Christian to the Celestial City. However, maybe not to bore the readers, there is almost a new set of characters and adventures that Christian in Part 1 did not meet or go through: Sagacity, Mercy, Interpreter, Ill-Favored Ones, Reliever, Mr. Great-Heart, Watchful, Grim, Mr. Brisk, Mercy, Matthew, Dr. Skill, Maul, Mr. Brisk, Old Honest, Mr. Fearing, Gaius, Giant Good-Slay, Heedless, Too-Bold, Mr. Feeble-Mind, Mr. Ready-to-Halt, Mr. Mnason, Contrite, Valiant-for-Truth, Standfast, and Madam Bubble,
I still remember the board game called Snakes and Ladders. This novel is similar to that. Among the characters listed, there are those who are snakes (Apollyon, Obstinate) and there are those who are ladders (Mr. Great-Heart, Help, Faithful, Helpful). The names are obvious so you can figure for yourself.

The use of these terms as names instead of fictional names seems to obviously indicate their roles in the journeys. However, I think it adds to the book’s charm and it makes it an easy read even after 4 decades since its first publication.

Being an allegory, however, it hardly elicited any faith-awakening emotion from me. It is more of an adventure or a fable intended for children. It is just fascinating to be exposed to a 17th century work that deals on faith. Then of course, learning that it had strong influences on the succeeding writers like Charles Dickens, Mark Twain, E. E. Cummings, Alan Moore makes this a worthwhile read. ...more
4

Jul 11, 2019

Wow, it’s like a Christian Dungeons and Dragons — evil giants, magic key, quest. Character names are fun. The name describes the character — Goodwill, Prudence, Piety, Mrs. Know-Nothing.

This book is also credited as the first English language novel and only second to the Bible for many Protestants in the 17th and 18th century. Definitely entertaining for the modern reader
1

Sep 05, 2012

The Pilgrim's Progress, or Christianity for Dummies by John Bunyan.

So... John Bunyan was a crazy and apparently exceedingly stupid man who wrote one of the most popular books ever in the Western literary tradition. I write of this book, obviously. The book's popularity and even its status as a Historically Important Classic is a harsh reminder of how immensely stupid and crazy humans, generally, are and always were. Because this book's status is such a harsh reminder of that fact, it's basically The Pilgrim's Progress, or Christianity for Dummies by John Bunyan.

So... John Bunyan was a crazy and apparently exceedingly stupid man who wrote one of the most popular books ever in the Western literary tradition. I write of this book, obviously. The book's popularity and even its status as a Historically Important Classic is a harsh reminder of how immensely stupid and crazy humans, generally, are and always were. Because this book's status is such a harsh reminder of that fact, it's basically the most depressing thing you could ever read, if you have some level of intelligence.

Of course, the book is not a novel really, but an allegory, and it does indeed have Historical Importance, if you're one of those insufferable fucks who think we should give the remotest semblance of a shit about the several hundred year old ramblings of a lunatic. It has Historical Importance because it's part of the English Puritan literature of the time and basically is relevant w/r/t that theology and its various dimensions and how this is, although batshit stupid even for the time, important, maybe, to understanding the progress of the arts and what not at the time, and how this fits into the rise of culture post-Middle Ages etc.

Except, you know, allegories had existed for a long-ass time before this thing reared its ugly head, and some of them were complex and balanced and literate and so on, including those in, uh, the Bible. Plus, there was a lot of very good literature before this came out, including in the religious tradition (see Milton, see Donne, and see others), so this thing's brutal awfulness is really inexcusable as "of the time" or whatever. No, it's just bad.

I opened this review/rant by calling this Christianity for Dummies, which is basically what it is. True, its explicit Protestant theology was different and what not, and this probably mattered a long time ago. But it reads, and probably has read for a long time, as Christianity for Dummies. You see, Bunyan's allegory can't even be called thinly-veiled. It's basically one insufferable lecture/sermon. I guess on a technicality it qualifies as an allegory, but it has to be the most ham-fisted and ridiculous allegory I've encountered. Here's a list of characters, which aren't really characters as such I suppose, because basically the names cover the whole deal; unlike other allegories, where a character may represent something or quality, here the names are it, there is no actual representation: Christian, Evangelist, Help, Worldly Wiseman, Hypocrisy, Discretion, Piety, Prudence, Charity, The Interpreter, Faithful, Talkative, Mr. By-ends, Hopeful, Giant Despair, Diffidence, Temporary, Mercy, Mr. Great-heart, Old Honest, Mr. Fearing, Mr. Feeble-mind, Valiant-for-truth.

"Oh, but it's of the time, Adam. Sure compared to anything written after it that's just hilarious and sad and not even endearing and after ten pages just infuriating, but it's of the time."

Shut the fuck up, strawman. Compared to most things written before it, again, including the fucking Bible itself, which most of this is a simplified rehash of with the slight narrative frame of A Man's Journey to Salvation, it's also just totally insanely stupid and infuriating.

But besides the fact that this is just terrible when it comes to any formal criteria, it's also just impossible to read if you're a non-believer or even anything resembling a modern Christian. The intensely spelled-out lessons here are either the worst ones you could choose from the Bible, or the product, ironically, of years of stupid Catholic theologians' bullshit, or they are, more rarely, really of the time in that they're newfangled Protestant things that still lie coiled at the heart of the darkest and most unpleasant aspects of contemporary Western culture.

But even if I didn't find this whole thing morally disgusting on nearly every level, it's just horrifically bad. It's shit allegory, shit fiction, shit everything. Written in prose bad even for the time, because you know, there was other prose written at the time. Take a look at it. It's not this bad.

And get this: nobody needs to read this today. Nobody. You can just, uh, talk about it, if you need to cover it and its content for historical purposes in the study of literature. There is absolutely no reason to actually read the thing because it has absolutely zero literary quality, or relevance, or importance. Here's everything you need to know about The Pilgrim's Progress, or Christianity for Dummies: it's real stupid, anything in it that's remotely interesting is in the Bible, or in books about the Bible, or about Christianity, that are far better than this, and it's just a hideously boring thing written by a lunatic, though it's popular because some people need to read things like this to dangerously simplify and remove any quality and intelligence from old myths and allegories, and write them anew in a supremely bullshitty manner. To the extent that this is Historically Important, that importance is in knowing about it and what the deal is with it. But you shouldn't actually read it, unless you're a masochist.

And really, I'm not the kinda guy who thinks you should never read old books. I just named Milton and Donne as two examples of near-contemporaries of Bunyan who are, uh, good writers, and as such still relevant in a literary sense, and who also are relevant in a historical sense, but much more so than Bunyan. Because this book has no relevance in a study of the history of allegories, in the study of the history of the novel, or poetry, or anything other than the persistent and sad idiocy of human beings, who have taken it upon themselves to translate this thing to more than a hundred languages, and also to still talk about a complete piece of shit like this centuries after it was written, instead of doing something real Christian like helping others, doing something real literary, like reading almost anything else, or doing something better and more important with their basic human existence, like just talking to another person, or just sitting still and doing nothing. ...more
1

Aug 31, 2009

This isn't easy for me to do, but I admit it. I give up. I can't make myself slog through this anymore.

I picked this up as part of my ongoing project to read classics I've somehow missed out on in the first 31 years of my life. Also, an old friend listed it as one of her 20 Most Memorable Books on facebook, so I was expecting to be moved. Or instructed. Or touched. Maybe that was part of the problem. But I've had it out from the library for 6 weeks, renewed it once already, the due date is This isn't easy for me to do, but I admit it. I give up. I can't make myself slog through this anymore.

I picked this up as part of my ongoing project to read classics I've somehow missed out on in the first 31 years of my life. Also, an old friend listed it as one of her 20 Most Memorable Books on facebook, so I was expecting to be moved. Or instructed. Or touched. Maybe that was part of the problem. But I've had it out from the library for 6 weeks, renewed it once already, the due date is looming ever closer and it's not getting any better.

It's an Allegory with a capital "A" and the moralizing is of far more importance than plot or characterization, so it's difficult to find a through story line. Basically, Christian is on a journey and meets with various weakness, temptations, and sins along the way personified as characters. There are interesting insights into human nature and the path to Heaven/The Celestial City, but it's so wordy that the reader has to wade through a whole lot to find those nuggets. I'm sure it's valuable as a Christian text, perhaps similar in its day to C.S. Lewis in ours, but I'm laying it down.

For more book reviews, visit my blog, Build Enough Bookshelves. ...more
5

Nov 30, 2019

So happy to finish the year with a classic I have been wanting to read for years! Loved the simplicity of the message: salvation is a pilgrimage that one must undertake (often times alone) if one expects to get to the gates of heaven - now I know where the term 'Vanity Fair' comes from!
5

Sep 15, 2011


I'd wanted to write this review a while ago. However since I can't write it then I'll have to write it now.

The Pilgrim's Progress is one of the most famous examples of allegory and also one of the most popular books ever published. I've heard that at one time it was as common to find this book in a home as a copy of The Bible.

This was one of those books I was introduced to as a child. You probably think I was an odd kid, reading books like this at 8 or 9 years old. And you'd probably be right.
I'd wanted to write this review a while ago. However since I can't write it then I'll have to write it now.

The Pilgrim's Progress is one of the most famous examples of allegory and also one of the most popular books ever published. I've heard that at one time it was as common to find this book in a home as a copy of The Bible.

This was one of those books I was introduced to as a child. You probably think I was an odd kid, reading books like this at 8 or 9 years old. And you'd probably be right. Or rather, perhaps I was slightly advanced for my age. I've always been the sort of reader where at the mere suggestion of a book or author I'd go and investigate them. That was why I read Paradise Lost a few years ago. It is also why I've been reading G.K. Chesterton recently.

For those not in the know this is a story about one man by the name of Pilgrim and his journey through various locations (each one named for an emotional, physical or spiritual hardship or positive). It is the story of one man leaving a life of apathy and setting out to find the truth. A story so endearing it has lasted hundreds of years.

I recommend this. Not just from a sense of nostalgia, but because it is a classic tale. It is a story that has had great consequence historically and has consequence today. ...more
3

Sep 21, 2008

I must say that I struggled rather with this book; I continually procrastinated from picking it up, and even when I actually got around to reading it, it was frankly pretty boring. Nonetheless, I'm sure it's a much better book than I give it credit for; context is all, so don't come back to me with essay-length descriptions of the circumstances under which it was written (I already know. I can and do read. Also I possess a brain) I did not like this book and this review explains why. That is I must say that I struggled rather with this book; I continually procrastinated from picking it up, and even when I actually got around to reading it, it was frankly pretty boring. Nonetheless, I'm sure it's a much better book than I give it credit for; context is all, so don't come back to me with essay-length descriptions of the circumstances under which it was written (I already know. I can and do read. Also I possess a brain) I did not like this book and this review explains why. That is all.

I was brought up in the Catholic tradition by a devout but sensible mother; baptised, reconciled, communioned, confirmed. I passed from insincere observance to a vague agnosticism to an indignant atheism to general indifference, but I am still surrounded and informed by the Catholic church and its way of thinking. The thing about institutionalised Catholicism is that it's a rather insincere beast; it's entirely ok with conspicuous wealth (e.g., the Vatican), moral lassitude (e.g., the Vatican) and deliberate and systematic misreadings of the Bible and all its teachings (e.g. the Vatican). What I like about Catholicism, though, is most of the non-Vatican Catholics. God, in their mind, is pretty much ok with non-literal interpretations of the Bible and therefore also with other things that both the Bible and the Vatican is decidedly ambivalent about: evolution, contraception, homosexuality, the female half of the human race, and so on.** My mother is cette espèce de Catholique; without any angst, she comfortably manages to simultaneously be a devout Catholic, an excellent biochemist and a generally tolerant human being.

Naturally, the content, philosophy and aesthetic of The Pilgrim's Progress is somewhat at odds with Catholicism, and even more at odds with the mostly liberal-democratic, secular society in which I have lived my entire life. I railed against this book with every fibre of my being for the entirety of its length. This, to me, only vaguely resembles what Christianity or any religion is about. Its Puritanical fire-and-brimstone approach was completely unfamiliar to me and impossible to identify with or distance myself from. Christian leaves his wife and family to languish in the City of Destruction; he blunders his way blindly and stupidly through any number of obvious religious allegories; he unquestioningly laps up the ideology of every character named with a virtuous adjective; he chastises with intolerance and narrow-mindedness anyone who deviates even slightly from his dogmatic beliefs. His obsession with reaching eternal glory in the Celestial City is characterised by a disturbing veneration of objects such as "crowns of gold", the very same objects that whose worship he despises in people not in heaven. This to me is an egregious misreading of religious texts (not that I've read the originals; so shoot me), not to mention blatant hypocrisy.

(Maybe, like in the Bible, Bunyan's being metaphorical about the crowns of gold and all that. But I don't think so. Bunyan was the uneducated son of a tinsmith - whatever virtue this book has comes from the power his vivid imagination invested in the tired old idea of pilgrimage, not the sophistication of his intellect. This book is all about taking religious metaphors and making them real, concrete. The crowns of gold are meant literally. Maybe he was just really stupid and/or deluded by faith? I think it's possible.)

There is no discussion in this book; every conversation involves either one person proselytising and the other person agreeing vehemently, or one person proselytising and the other disagreeing and then being condemned to Hell (quite literally) with no explanation. Two is the maximum number of people possible in a conversation, even if the third would have to be deaf and blind for this to make sense. Usually characters lay out their confusing and arbitrary-seeming opinions in the form of lists. Names are given according to whichever characteristic Bunyan wants to highlight about a character: ignorance, sloth, avarice, whatever. None of this is makes good literature or profound philosophy; what it makes is a load of crock.

Reading criticism was not helpful. Unlike with Don Quixote, the only criticism I found was not of a high standard, and tended to wax lyrical about how great it was without going into any real detail about why. I was totally unable to identify with any conception of this work as a masterpiece of artistic and philosophical exposition. I was also bored and disgusted by George Bernard Shaw's likening of Bunyan to Nietzsche, and his disparagement of Shakespeare in comparison as "a fashionable author who could see nothing in the world but personal aims and the tragedy of their disappointment or the comedy of their incongruity". This, Mr. Shaw, I cannot agree with - Shakespeare writes for always and everyone; Bunyan writes one single narrative expressing a single, narrow view of life.

There are good things here, though: mainly his prose, which is excellent in the way the Bible is excellent - possibly because a lot of the best parts are cribbed from the Bible - the valley of the shadow of death, for example. By the waters of Babylon I lay down and wept as I remembered Zion... poetry doesn't get much better than the Bible, especially when set to music (mmmmmm, polyphony). Bunyan's prose is very simple - he uses short words, but they have a fantastic rhythm. This is the opening of the book:

As I walked through the wilderness of the world, I lighted on a certain place where was a den [jail], and I laid me down in that place to sleep, and as I slept I dreamed a dream. I dreamed, and behold I saw a man clothed with rags, standing in a certain place, with his face from his own house, a book in his hand, and a great burden upon his back...

LIfe, life, eternal life! There's power here, in these words, and in the very nature of the allegory. The sheer simplicity of making literal all those metaphors! And yet, how striking the result. In small doses. When I consider it carefully. The dramatic and tragic qualities of Christianity are, I believe, one of its redeeming features. Anyone who has, for example, been to the tenebrae mass at a big cathedral will know what I mean, or even a decently-done funeral or memorial service. (I sing in a cathedral choir; I read a book during the sermons and don't take communion or say any of the prayers, but it's educational all the same.)

So I suppose in the end I'll give this book three stars, which seems a bit strange, but although I really hated it I also kind of love it. ...more
3

Nov 15, 2014

Oh, Pilgrim's Progress, how glad I am that I have finally read you and that I'll never have to read you again. Thank you for being shorter and easier to read than I was expecting. Little Women (obvious references) and The Lord of the Rings (not so obvious), both books I've loved since childhood, came to mind as having been heavily influenced by you in different ways.

The value in this book lies, for me, in the fact that it gives me some insight into the culture and history of the literature that Oh, Pilgrim's Progress, how glad I am that I have finally read you and that I'll never have to read you again. Thank you for being shorter and easier to read than I was expecting. Little Women (obvious references) and The Lord of the Rings (not so obvious), both books I've loved since childhood, came to mind as having been heavily influenced by you in different ways.

The value in this book lies, for me, in the fact that it gives me some insight into the culture and history of the literature that came after and in the Christian mind set that has long been almost incomprehensible to me. Not to say that I get it now, but the word "evangelist" has long had a negative connotation, so much so that I was actually surprised that one of the "good guys" was called "evangelist." Some of my favorite books were written about and from eras in which Christianity was the dominant religion, so it is helpful for me to read a text that would have been so common and ubiquitous among authors I admire.

Quotes from The Novel: A Biography by Michael E.C. Schmidt about A Pilgrim's Progress:

"Bunyan at his best is not only telling a story but building a marvelous structure in which all the parts relate to one another."

"Bunyan is at once more medieval (allegorical) and more modern (synthetic) than most."

"Bunyan is less homespun than DeFoe, his imagery more complex and resonant than Richardson's."

"These and other formal features create a rich impurity and variety of effect."

"...it plays constantly between The Bible, allegory, and the living world, it is more complex in conception and consistent in execution than any English prose work that precedes it. It is original without meaning to be; it entertains even the pagan and atheist heart." ...more
5

Jan 31, 2016

I first heard of this book in Bible college. Today Christianity offers many opposing viewpoints and brings confusion and arguments to many. To those who hunger for and seek truth I understand the difficulty. I had my own journey and had to fail and become desperate before I found the real thing. This book gives clear and concise guidance on the Christian faith and makes it fun and exciting, as we follow a man's dangerous journey to escape the destruction of his own city and journey to the I first heard of this book in Bible college. Today Christianity offers many opposing viewpoints and brings confusion and arguments to many. To those who hunger for and seek truth I understand the difficulty. I had my own journey and had to fail and become desperate before I found the real thing. This book gives clear and concise guidance on the Christian faith and makes it fun and exciting, as we follow a man's dangerous journey to escape the destruction of his own city and journey to the celestial fortress. ...more
0

Oct 07, 2018

DNF

Just not for me. It's the writing style and the in-your-face allegories and whatnot. It's just not worth my time as there is the Bible if I want obvious Christianity and fiction which I'll enjoy and don't have to slough-of-despond my way through if I want less obvious Christianity. ;P

(I'm not saying it won't be helpful to others; it's not what I need, but it could be what you do!)

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