Pilgrim's Progress

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From this World to that which is to come, a prose allegory by Bunyan (Part I 1678, Part II 1684).

The allegory takes the form of a dream by the author. In this he sees Christian, with a burden on his back and reading in a book, from which he learns that the city in which he and his family dwell will be burned with fire. On the advice of Evangelist, Christian flees from the City of Destruction. Part I describes his pilgrimage through the Slough of Despond, the Interpreter's House, the House Beautiful, the Valley of Humiliation, the Valley of the Shadow of Death, Vanity Fair, Doubting Castle, the Delectable Mountains, and the country of Beulah, to the Celestial City. On the way he encounters various allegorical personages, among them Mr Worldly Wiseman, Faithful, Hopeful, Giant Despair, Apollyon, and many others.

Part II relates how Christian's wife, Christiana, moved by a vision, sets out with her children on the same pilgrimage, accompanied by her neighbour Mercy. The work is a development of the Puritan conversion narrative (see Grace Abounding), drawing on popular literature such as emblem books and chapbooks, as well as Foxe's Book of Martyrs and the Bible. It is remarkable for the beauty and simplicity of its language (Bunyan was permeated with the English of the Bible, though he was also a master of the colloquial English of his own time), the vividness and reality of the characterization, and the author's sense of humour and feeling for the world of nature.

Subjects: Literature.

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