Saturday, September 17, 2016

John Bunyan's 'Christiana: The Pilgrim's Progress,' Part the Second (1678)

John Bunyan, The Pilgrim's Progress from This World to That Which Is to Come; Delivered under the Similitude of a Dream. (Wordsworth's Classics of World Literature). Ware, Hertfordshire: Wordsworth Editions Limited, 1996 edition; originally published in 1678.  

In which we focus on Christiana, the sequel to the first part. In this case, the sequel is better than the original. It builds on the first, but adds everything but the kitchen sink, with plenty of excitement along the way. Here, the main protagonist is Christiana as she leads her crew on pilgrimage from the City of Destruction toward the Celestial City. 

Early on, Bunyan prepares us for his style of writing (page 138):

But some there be that say, He laughs too loud;
And some do say, His head is in a cloud.
Some say, His words and stories are so dark,
They know not how, by them, to find his mark.
In Christiana, we are introduced to many strong or bizarro characters, which will remind at least some readers of The Wizard of Oz. They range from Mr. Fearing to Mr. Great-heart, from Mercy to Mr. Despondency, from Giant Despair to Bloody-man, from Maul to Slay-good, from the Shining Ones to Madam Bubble. Many of these or characters much like them still walk among us in the 21st century. Why just the other day I saw Professor Weirdbeard and Mr. Bun. 

I continue to be fascinated by bits and ideas from The Pilgrim's Progress that continue to float around 338 years down the road -- though we may rarely now wonder of from whence they come -- things like Vanity Fair and House Beautiful, expressions like "naughty ones," "[for] the time being," "sweet heart" (now "sweetheart"), "God speed" (now "Godspeed") and "three leaps for joy" (now "leap for joy.")* 

As for generous treats of wine, food, jewelry and other surprising delights allowed by Bunyon in Christiana, there's plenty more for a future post.

Today's Rune: Fertility.   

*(For these in context, see pages 156, 160, 168, 170, 173, 254).  


Charles Gramlich said...

I read the primary part of this many many years ago and remember very little. I should reread the whole thing

the walking man said...

Once again Erik you have brought forward something I am not familiar with at all--more TBR.