The Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan

The Pilgrim's Progress

Often rated as important as the Bible as a Christian document, this famous story of man's progress through life in search of salvation remains one of the most entertaining allegories of faith ever written. Set against realistic backdrops of town and country, the powerful drama of the pilgrim's trials and temptations follows him in his harrowing journey to the Celestial Cit...

Title:The Pilgrim's Progress
Author:
Rating:
ISBN:0486426750
Number of Pages:324 pages

The Pilgrim's Progress Reviews

  • Paul

    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.

  • Ryan

    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.

  • Mike (the Paladin)

    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.

  • Paul Bryant

    In the dawn of the day

    began his quest for the

    with a glad heart, his countenance suffused by the

    and unburthened by

    He knew he should soon pass threw

    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

    , who thrust at him pretty volume

    In the dawn of the day

    began his quest for the

    with a glad heart, his countenance suffused by the

    and unburthened by

    He knew he should soon pass threw

    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

    , 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

    stopped by a winding road betimes, and read of these, and soon found himself in the

    . Haply

    arrived to yank

    out of the

    , and bade him follow him to a standing stone whereon he might make his mark for a Sign, and enter the gate of

    , which he was eager for. They that met him shewed him to the

    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

    where in his soul had near perished. And

    took sleep then and woke to find a thousand votes heaped up around his cot, and his heart was light. And in the

    he was yet written as number three and forty. But yet he was foresworn to climb the

    to greet the Archangels Wallace and Gaddis, and clothed with his

    which the citizens of Goodreads had yet given freely to him, he fixed his

    into its scabbard and sallied forth.

  • Alex

    Pilgrim's Progress is about two delusional assholes wandering around being dicks to people, so it's basically a takeoff of

    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

    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 r

    Pilgrim's Progress is about two delusional assholes wandering around being dicks to people, so it's basically a takeoff of

    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

    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

    " 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:

    Talkative has done

    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.

    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,

    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

    - 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

    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.


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