Book #49: The Pilgrim’s Progress

I’m not quite sure what I thought about The Pilgrim’s Progress.

I’ve been hearing about this work by John Bunyan for a long time. It has a legacy of being the defining Christian allegory for several hundred years. I’d always planned on reading it for a Bible study or something when I was in high school and college, but I never got around to it until now.

I was interested in some of the theological and religious things in Pilgrim’s Progress, but mostly, the allegory/metaphor/whatever you want to call it was way too heavy. Bunyan says in the preface that some people might think that he uses too much metaphor, but calls on readers to accept this and use it as a tool to understanding his message better.

I read The Pilgrim’s Progress with this in mind, but it was hard for me to put up with the not-at-all-veiled metaphor. The main character’s name is Christian, for crying out loud! His companions have names like Faithful, Ignorance, Hopeful, Watchful, Sincere, Atheist, and Evangelist. Place names include The Valley of the Shadow of Death, the Slough of Despond, Carnal Policy, and the City of Morality. Couldn’t Bunyan have at least TRIED to disguise the names? I don’t mind heavy symbolism, most of the time. But I at least like to have to pretend that I have to work to figure out what the author is saying.

That’s the biggest thing I took away from The Pilgrim’s Progress: that it was one big, obvious metaphor for becoming a Christian and following Jesus. From a theological standpoint (and even from a historical/social standpoint, I guess), I can see why The Pilgrim’s Progress has stood the test of time. However, the way-too-obvious metaphors made me kind of hate it and want to read it as quickly as possible.

Which I did.

Rating: ***
Up Next: 
 Les Miserables

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