Drama queen creates Tolkien-esque yawnfest

John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress from 1678 is one of the best-selling and most influential books in history. How does it read today?

August 10, 2023

Slough of despond recoloured
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Penny Mallory - 2023 08 16

Very fine article about John Bunyan.  Agreed, this was no family man and Tolkeinesque is a good adjective to describe his imaginative and gory writing.  I would disagree, however, with the conclusion that he had a “compulsive-obsessive disorder.”  In mediaeval times, and further until at least the seventeenth century, people earnestly believed that they sinned most of the time, and that these sins were about to condemn them to an eternity “where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.”  The novel Thais by Anatole France is based on the preoccupation with sin of the monks of the fifth century.  The early German novels of the thirteenth century had to do mostly with struggles with sin.  Luther’s and Calvin’s works are in the first place about the sinful state of humankind.  The Catholic Church used to sing Thomas of Celano’s “Dies irae” (Day of Wrath) as a mass for the dead—every bit as dramatic as Bunyan’s “Pilgrim’s Progress”—until it was abolished by the Second Vatican Council.  Needless to say, this 5th-17th century preoccupation has been almost completely abandoned by modern Christendom.  Against this background, it makes little sense to look at Bunyan in isolation and conclude that he had a compulsive-obsessive disorder.  He was just a perfectly ordinary person who believed the theogony and the theology of his day.  His distinctive was his stiff back and his ability to entertain through his writing.

Peter_G_Moll - 2023 08 12

Reading mouse

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