Wednesday, 24 December 2008

A Pilgrim's Review

I finally got round to finishing the Pilgrims Progress. I started off strong and then really slowed down. 

This books is a classic and some people that I know absolutely love this book. I got told (so I have nothing to back this up) that this book was the first novel to be put through the printing press, and since then it hasn't been out of print. In some Christian circles this book is kinda assumed reading. I got a book for my birthday by J.C Ryle and he quotes this book, ministers also refer to this assuming people know the story and other blogs refer to this (just searching my RSS feeds, I have 16 references to this book in there- one said: "no intelligent Protestant minister should have not read and mastered this book.")

My copy had a long introduction discussion when John Bunyan first started writing this book and how my copy is much closer to the 11th edition and not the 3rd edition. All in all I wasn't too fussed about the history of it.

There are two parts to the story, the first part is about Christan who goes on a pilgrim to the Celestial City and his ordeal along the way and the second is about his wife Christiana and children who then take the same pilgrim. In the second story Christiana is meant to be the main character, but she is escorted by Mr Great-Heart who does all the work and it felt like he was the main dude. Also her children don't get names at the beginning and as if an afterthought to the story we find out their names and latter all of a sudden they are old enough to marry. The story is very linear in that there is a problem, it then get solved. They move on and then another problem arises and that is solved. There are no problems upon problems that build up to be resolved in the end.

The book was hard to read -well that is kinda unfair. It doesn't have chapter break ups so it is hard to know when to break from the story. Also the story is mostly dialogue between the characters and when they meet a new person they would ask "What have you been up to?" and they would then repeat most of the story that you have just read.

A while ago I read The Pilgrims Regress which is also an allegorical story. I thought Lewis gave a better thought out world and characters than this book.

All this sounds quite harsh, so to be positive the theology in this books is strong and it would be hard to fault, it's just that the story of the book is kinda thin. 

You can read it online here.


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