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
Format Type:Paperback
Number of Pages:324 pages

The Pilgrim's Progress Reviews

  • Paul
    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.

  • Stephen
    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.

  • Ryan
    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.

  • Jessica
    Sep 05, 2008

    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

    , 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.”

    is a wonderful allegory of th

    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

    , 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.”

    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.

    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.

  • Mike (the Paladin)
    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.

  • Paul Bryant
    Apr 23, 2012

    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.

  • Ian
    Apr 23, 2012

    Then it came to pass a while after, that there was a

    in the town that inquired for

    .

    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

    at his Father’s house.

    “And for a token that my message is true, all the daughters of music, even the

    , shall

    Then it came to pass a while after, that there was a

    in the town that inquired for

    .

    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

    at his Father’s house.

    “And for a token that my message is true, all the daughters of music, even the

    , 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

    . You can have all of my books, even the fat ones that stop the doors.

    “As for my

    , 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

    or

    .”

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

    .

    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

    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

    on God’s own Earth, most especially in England.

    After this it was noised abroad that

    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

    was broken at the

    .” Eccles. 12:6 (or was it Bluebottle?).

    He did

    this message greatly and at length (exceeding 20,000 characters) and when he understood it, he called for his

    , 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

    and

    and, yea, even

    and

    , yet now I do not repent me of all the

    I have been at to arrive where I am.

    “My

    I give to him or her (but preferably her) that shall succeed me in my pilgrimage, and

    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

    for me that I have fought His battles who will now be my

    . “

    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

    ?”

    And as he went down deeper, he said, “Grave, where is thy

    ?” 1 Cor. 15:55.

    So

    passed over, and all the

    sounded for him on the other side. As did the strumpets who had ended their

    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

    and

    and

    and

    . 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

    in Heaven. For it is said, God is great, not Gaddis.”

    And of DeLillo, He did say, “He is safely in an

    of his own manufacture.”

    So too did He remark of Pynchon, "I am told he has been distracted by some

    ."

    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

    ? Ya gotta be kiddin' me, right?”

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

    .

  • Alex
    Jan 09, 2015

    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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