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The Pilgrim's Progress

The Pilgrim's Progress

Written by John Bunyan

Narrated by David Shaw-Parker


The Pilgrim's Progress

Written by John Bunyan

Narrated by David Shaw-Parker

ratings:
4/5 (100 ratings)
Length:
12 hours
Released:
Aug 13, 2014
ISBN:
9781843797326
Format:
Audiobook

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Also available as bookBook

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Description

For three hundred years The Pilgrim’s Progress has remained perhaps the best loved and most read of devotional fictions. In plain yet powerful and moving language, Bunyan tells the story of Christian’s struggle to attain salvation and the Gates of Heaven. He must pass through the Slough of Despond, ward off the temptations of Vanity Fair and fight the monstrous Apollyon… In Part Two, his wife and children follow the same path, helped and protected by Great-Heart, until for them too ‘the trumpets sound on the other side’.
Released:
Aug 13, 2014
ISBN:
9781843797326
Format:
Audiobook

Also available as...

Also available as bookBook

About the author

John Bunyan (1628-1688) was born in Elstow, England, and his life was spared twice in his early years, something he believed God had done for a special purpose. In November 1660, when Bunyan arrived to preach in the little town of Lower Samsell, he was informed that a warrant had been issued for his arrest. Unwilling to denounce his Christian faith and his calling to the ministry, he was imprisoned for twelve years. Among the many writings he published during his imprisonment are The Holy City; Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners; and the most famous, The Pilgrims Progress. After his release, he became the pastor of a church in Bedord, England and continued to write and publish stirring works that have endured through time. Among these classics are The Holy War; Bunyan's Visions of Heaven and Hell and Journey to Hell: The Life and Death of Mr. Badman.


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4.1
100 ratings / 67 Reviews
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  • (3/5)
    A lucid story that weaves and flows its way through inception to conclusion.Recommended for everyone
  • (3/5)
    Summary: In this allegorical novel, a pilgrim named Christian travels a journey in which he loses the heavy weight of his sins, is tempted to sin again, and eventually reaches paradise.My thoughts: I’m not sure why this is the most printed book in English, other than the Bible. I love allegory generally, but this allegory beat you over the head with obviousness. Everyone and everything was given a name (like Christian) that said explicitly what the character or impediment represented. The story itself was interesting enough, I suppose, as a concept, I just wish it were more subtle. This is also not a book for non-Christians, unless they are reading for the sake of learning about classic literature.
  • (4/5)
    I was looking forward to reading this version of the Christian classic retold in modern English. I vaguely remember being read the original as a child or maybe it was the junior version. Ford's version did not disappoint...well at least the first half.

    The book should really be divided into two with Christian's journey separate from his wife Christiana's. The second book repeats a lot of the first and is really just going over Christian's journey from the perspective of his wife. There didn't seem to be a lot of unique material or new characters. I found myself getting a bit bored and a bit lost in some of the allegory by the end. If this version is faithful to the original then I guess it was Bunyan who wrote Christiana's journey in this way...I would still have given the second part three stars and maybe it would work better if a reader was to read the second part after a considerable break from the first.

    That said, I loved The Pilgrim's Progress and I loved the first half of this version. I would definitely give it five stars or more if that was possible. The author has included all of the Scripture references for the narrative in the margins so the reader can see its origin. She has also added various italicised comments to help the reader understand the spiritual lessons and to draw the truth out. These were great additions.

    So, five stars for part 1 and three for part 2 or try reading the two parts with a significant time gap in the middle. Regardless, every Christian should read a version of this classic book and Ford's is a good option. Recommended.






  • (3/5)
    When I was in my early high school, I read Little Pilgrim's Progress and thought it was a quite a fun story with swords and battles and adventures. Reading the 'adult' version of the book has brought back memories as I try and align the two.
    This version was still quite readable and the first part of the book followed Christian as he journeyed to the wicket gate to start walking on the narrow path. He struggled with or fought of or was almost misled by various characters and trials. Each of the people was given a name that reflected their character, such as Faithful, Hopeful, Ignorance, Evangelist and Pliable.
    However, after passing through Vanity Fair and the Celestial Mountains, the story started to slow down with several lengthy theological explanations as they walked along. The end of the journey appeared suddenly and the characters walked a pretty easy path near the end, with not many challenges.
    And of course, in the end, they successfully reach heaven and are allowed to enter in.
    One thing that concerned me as I read was that the book was running out of pages to cover his wife's story. From what I recall, Little Pilgrim's Progress covers both Christian and Christiana's stories. According to Wikipedia, there is a second book that covers her story, although it is possible the edition I read was slightly abridged and did not include it.
  • (4/5)
    The Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan was written in 1678 and can be counted among the most significant works of English literature. It is an allegory, presented as a narration of a dream, and it is divided into two parts. The first part follows protagonist Christian from the City of Destruction, i.e. this world, to the Celestial City, i.e. heaven. Christian sets out on this journey, leaving behind his wife, his children and his home, because he is weighed down by a burden. On his way, he goes through several stages and meets various persons, some of whom accompany him on his journey and some of whom try to convince him of leaving the path he is on. The characters he encounters have, as he himself, very straightforward names that show their main character trait. They can be regarded as flat characters whose name already gives away what their character is like and what their role in the story will be. Examples of such names are Legality, Goodwill, Faithful, Ignorance, Giant Despair, and Mistrust, to name but a few. The same thing can be said for the stages Christian passes through. There is the Valley of the Shadow of Death, Vanity Fair, the Hill of Difficulty, or the Delectable Mountains. The second part of The Pilgrim's Progress relates the story of Christiana, Christian's wife, who sets out with her children and Mercy, another woman from the City of Destruction, to follow her husband's path to Mount Zion and the Celestial City.Although the book was written in 1678, the text is very easy to follow as the language is quite simple with no complex sentence structures. Bunyan's writing style is very direct, which is probably due to the fact that the book was intended for a popular and not for a higher-educated academic readership. Being a Christian allegory it was aimed at a broad audience depicting Christian life as the only true way of life. The names of characters and places ensure that there is no trouble in deciphering the allegoric meaning of the novel. Yet, I have read that Bunyan, who is said to have traveled from Bedford to London, was influenced by his personal surroundings in the description of the places in the story. Generally, the book can be approached without much background knowledge, but you probably might get more out of it with a religious background.On the whole, 3.5 stars as the second part was somewhat repetitive after having read the first one. Plus, I felt I was getting a moralizing lecture.
  • (5/5)
    A Must Read...sure to entertain and enlighten, read slowly, savor every word. A true life study guide...the perfect heirloom gift for parents to give to their children...as they graduate in life. *Plus in the back there is included, a fold out Color Historical Time-line and a chapter on The Life of John Bunyan...what an insightful. timeless dream!I want this book with me everywhere and always...wish it was hardcover. ... thank you so much Mr Hazelbaker!
  • (5/5)
    Bunyan's style isn't for everyone and allegories aren't in fashion anymore. But he portrays the Christian life wonderfully, as a medieval adventure, with dangers to be fought, friendships to hold fast, treasures to be won, and a homecoming to celebrate. This picture of life as a meaningful narrative rings true. There's good reason this book has been so widely read for centuries: people see themselves in Bunyan's hero and find themselves rising to the level of Christian and Christiana.
  • (5/5)
    Absolutely amazing. Worth all 12 hours or even 120 hours
  • (5/5)
    I think it’s AMAZING !!!The narrator is THE BEST one I have ever heard! The way he changes his voice is unbelievable!
    You never find a narrator like him, in fact I have listened to him two times and I still want to listen to the book! I am so glad I have listened to this book!! I love it!
  • (5/5)
    This book change my life. I love this book. Awesome
  • (4/5)
    This is my copy, a gift from my mother.I had read the child's version, never the real thing. This was my first reading of it. It is excellent.The Second Part is easier to read than the first. The vernacular of the day is very "modern" (not much change in 400 years). I'd like to try reading just the narrative without reading the notes. Wait a few years, then read again.
  • (2/5)
    In 2015 The Guardian published a list of the 100 best novels published in English, listed in chronological order of publication. Under Covid inspired lockdown, I have taken up the challenge.The Pilgrim's Progress, published in 1678, is the first in the list.I was underwhelmed. It is a Christian allegory, and has remained popular and recommended (although possible less read) ever since publication. I found the prose turgid and the content nonsensical.The 17th century had Shakespeare and poetry, and I expected more of the prose fiction of the era, but the genre had not really been established. Five hundred years after the Tale of Genji, English literaure was waiting for its first novel.The 17th century was also the dawn of the Enlightenment. Newton published Principia Mathematica 10 years after Pilgrim's Progress. In that context, Pilgim's Progress seems a last echoing cry of the non-rational world.
  • (5/5)
    This is a Christian book. But its principles of not getting tricked or waylaid off your chosen path as a baseball player or President. We get off our goals just as easily as a Christian apparently gets away from his or her goals in life.
  • (4/5)
    I started it once and put it down. Too boring. I picked it up a few years later and found it interesting - the tedious journey no longer seemed so. A puritanical pursuit of the good.
  • (3/5)
    This book is ancient! As an allegory of the Christian life, it still makes (almost?) perfect sense today. The second part with Christian's wife and children was kind of boring, probably because it's the retelling of the same story.
  • (1/5)
    I can appreciate why John Bunyan's "The Pilgrim's Progress," an allegory of the Christian faith, was beloved by Puritans. For me, it was incredibly tedious and a 1,001 book just to try and get through.I failed in that... after it became clear the second half was going to be pretty much a retelling of the first half, I finally gave up.
  • (5/5)
    By reputation John Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress is one of the classics of English literature, being in print continuously since 1678 and being translated into over 200 languages. In its essence it is the story of Christian faith, following a person of faith as he journeys through life until he arrives at his heavenly home. It is told from the vantage point of a dream and makes excellent use of the method of allegory. Bunyan wrote this masterpiece in two parts, the first being the story of the journey of a pilgrim, Christian, from the City of Destruction to the Celestial City. The second part is the story of his wife, Christiana, and their four children taking the same journey several years later. Christiana had mocked her husband when he left and she delights in learning the details of his travel as she finds herself being led along the same road. I found Christiana's travels more compelling, perhaps due to the way in which vibrant faith was also expressed in the children.While Bunyan used allegory to tell this story everything about it comes across as something he knows first-hand, either from his own personal experience as a Christian who was jailed for his faith, or that he learned while serving as a pastor. The struggles that Christian and Christiana go through, although written over 300 years ago, are the struggles of Christians today. And so are the joys and delights that are found in the Christian life. I received this book three years ago as a gift from someone who said he read from it often. And now, having read it myself, I am beginning to understand why, and I anticipate I will follow his habit.
  • (1/5)
    This book wasn't bad or awful, per se, it was simply painfully dull and boring with absolutely no vested interest in what occurs with the characters. Which brings us to the characters! Look, I get that this is a biblically-woven highly religious allegory of personal salvation, that much is clear, but does the reader have to be blunted over the head with it? The lead player is named Christian? Really? Couldn't call him Bob? And his wife is Christina? You're joking, right? Pamela would've been better. The biggest surprise - and there are none - is that his children aren't named Christine, Christopher, and Jiminy Christmas. Also, did Bunyan HAVE to name everyone else exactly what they are in metaphor? I found that aggravating, and the slog-through was mighty difficult, and the sudden bursts of rhyme were ridiculous and often non-rhyming, but I'm all the richer for having read it, right? Wrong. Guess I'm going to hell.
  • (5/5)
    I absolutely loved reading this! It has to be the best allegory of man's search for life and salvation. This book promises love, hope, light, healing, joy and peace. The only thing the reader must do, is find his path and then stay on it.
  • (1/5)
    The book is composed of two stories. The story of the pilgrimage of Christian is followed by a story of his wife Christiana's pilgrimage with her children. The story has similarities to that of paradise lost. Bunyan's story is tedious and boring. I cannot recommend the book to anyone but the fanatic.
  • (1/5)
    I don't know if this is the worst book that I've ever read or if the audiobook was so atrocious that it made it into the worst thing ever. This book was a nightmare. I get it, I get it, I know it's supposed to be a Christian allegory, but listening to six hours of this (fully fucking dramatized) was hell. HELL. I wanted to bleach my ears. I couldn't handle it anymore, did Satan narrate this? This book made the Lord of the Rings trilogy look like a cake walk!! The Pilgrim's Progress was a long ass journey to heaven made by "Christian" and other people he runs into. They face all sorts of dumb shit and get into dumb trouble and make lots of dumb decisions but SOME FUCKING HOW still make it to heaven (spoiler alert). Christian loses lots of companions, walks into dumb scenarios every other page, but luckily for him, he had some faith so he made it. UGH. I hate everything. I'm glad this nightmare book is over.
  • (5/5)
    Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan is a landmark work in both Christian theology and English literature. Since its publication in 1678, it has encouraged countless Christians on their journey from this world to the next, and its impact on the literary tradition of England has been profound.Pilgrim's Progress is an allegory in the purest sense of the word; everything in the book has a one-to-one correlation with a spiritual principle. In part one, a man living in the City of Destruction becomes troubled by what he reads in a book (the Bible) and leaves his home, warning his scoffing family and neighbors that their city is going to be destroyed. He carries a heavy weight on his back and initially undertakes his journey to find a way to take it off. Along the way he meets a man named Evangelist who speaks truth to him, but not all fellow travelers are so congenial. He meets with characters with names like Mr. Worldly-wiseman, Formalist, Hypocrisy, Timorous, Mistrust, and Wanton, as well as Apollyon (an archdevil) and the Giant Despair, among others. Through a landscape of theological traps and oases Christian (for that is now his name) must make his way ever onward to the Celestial City, sustained on his travels by the Lord of Pilgrims.The second part recounts the story of Christiana, Christian's wife, who eventually follows her husband's path from the City of Destruction to eternal life in the Celestial City. In terms of sheer dramatic effect, part two is far inferior to part one; instead of fleeing her city in despair over its coming destruction, Christiana receives an invitation from the Lord of Pilgrims to join Him and her husband in His city. She takes along her four sons and her handmaid Mercy, and they are aided on their journey by a Mr. Great-heart. There seems to be less action and more catechizing in this section of the book, but there are some valuable theological refinements as well. There are some pilgrims who probably wouldn't have been considered worthy of pilgrimage in the first part, like Mr. Fearing, Mr. Despondency, and his daughter Much-Afraid. These pilgrims are characterized by fear and weakness, but they are still loved by their Lord and they too eventually come to the Celestial City.Nowadays I think there is an attitude of amused condescension that many feel toward Pilgrim's Progress because of its theological themes sticking out in plain sight under the see-through fictional covering. I know I felt that way... oh Bunyan, my dear man, you mean well but must you be so hamfisted? Can't you cover things up a little more artistically, add some adornment to your catechismic dialogues? Don't you know that straight allegory is far, far out of fashion just now? But this was before I read it, before I understood the narrative power that can come from an author being completely honest about his themes and intentions. By stripping away every non-essential, Bunyan can get down to the theology while still working within his fictional frame. The result is rich doctrine with the immediacy of a gripping story — a heady mix that is very rarely imitated successfully.And you can't doubt the man's sincerity. Bunyan knew what it meant to be persecuted; he started the book from a prison cell where he ultimately spent twelve years of his life, imprisoned for holding church services outside the bounds of the Church of England. His imprisonment was costly not just to him, but to his family. His message is given weight by his experiences — here is a man who knows what it means to be on pilgrimage through lands ruled by the enemy. Persecution is inevitable; Christians will suffer in this world. But equally true is our reward in the Celestial City, where our Lord Himself will welcome us home. What a hope, what a joy on our journey!I have said that Pilgrim's Progress is stripped down, but maybe a truer statement would be that our conceptions of the Christian life are covered in needless accretions that both complicate and hinder our journey. Vanity Fair, the Slough of Despond, Doubting Castle, the Valley of the Shadow of Death — these are universal places we all visit. Bunyan's characters also have their counterparts in our world. Bunyan dramatizes the Christian life not to change it or present it as something it's not, but to show us where our experience is deceptive. Things are clearer in the realm of allegory. If we have never had pilgrimage experiences like those of Christian, we ought to check that we're on the right road and that we've come in through the right gate.The language is beautiful and not at all hard to understand. It has its quaint 1678-isms, but for me they added to the flavor. In many places I just stopped to savor it. I read this with my adult Bible fellowship, and most people read a version that was updated with modern English. I wouldn't advise that. The original writing is not that difficult, and while the updated version isn't terrible, it does lack Bunyan's indefinable force of language. Also there were some odd additions in the new version, theology I agreed with but that was not part of the original text. Hmm.I had read an abridged version as a child which didn't really grab me, but now I'm a pilgrim and have had some experience of the road. And now I see how powerful this story is and why it has informed the Christian imagination for centuries. In some sections I would just stop and marvel at Bunyan's fantastic theology and fertile imagination. And it doesn't hurt that the narrative is soaked in Scripture! Of Bunyan, Charles Spurgeon said, "'Prick him anywhere, his blood is Bibline, the very essence of the Bible flows from him. He cannot speak without quoting a text, for his very soul is FULL of the Word of God.'" I couldn't get enough of it; who knew that Pilgrim's Progress could induce late-night reading vigils? I will certainly be rereading this!In the "apology" poem at the beginning, Bunyan writes, "this book will make a traveler of thee." Indeed it will.
  • (3/5)
    It?s taken me a while, but I have finished the first book on my list of 88 Classics to read within five years. I?ll ignore for the moment the fact that I need to really bump up my pace if I?m going to meet my goal, and instead just celebrate being done with this one particular book.

    So, hooray! I?m done with The Pilgrim?s Progress!

    The Pilgrim?s Progress is made up of two parts: Part I follows Christian as he travels through an allegorical landscape to the equally allegorical Celestial City, and Part II follows his wife, Christiana, and their sons as they make their allegorical trek after Christian.

    The edition I have---the Penguin Classics paperback---has an introduction and notes by Roger Sharrock. I didn?t read Sharrock?s introduction, but his notes helped give some historical context and some explanation for some of the symbols, which helped clear some of the haze of confusion in which I sometimes found myself.

    In Part I we hear a lot of conversion stories. First we hear Christian?s own story and then we hear the stories of each person Christian meets---and he meets a lot of people. After each person shares his story, we get to hear Christian and his walking buddy (Faithful until his end in Vanity Fair, and then Hopeful) discussing the flaws in that person?s viewpoint. For someone so fearful and doubting at the beginning of the tale, Christian ends up pretty judgmental of others? stories and motivations by the end. He criticizes those who are attracted by the fervor of the pilgrims, as well as those who take too intellectual an approach toward religion.

    ?For they are these talkative fools,? Christian says, ?whose religion is only in word, and are debauched and vain in their conversation, that being so much admitted into the fellowship of the godly do stumble the world, blemish Christianity, and grieve the sincere.?

    In Part I, the path to the Celestial City is a very difficult one, and very few people are likely to measure up and to make it past all of the dangers to their final reward. Christian?s pilgrimage is one he takes largely on his own, and each test he encounters is one that challenges his personal faith.

    There is a big focus in this section on the importance of turning away from one?s family and friends when they don?t support one?s pilgrimage. Christian turns away from his family, leaving them behind to what he believes will be certain death, and then the first of his two main traveling companions does the same. As Faithful explains when another pilgrim questions him about his lineage, ?although all these that he named might claim kindred of me, and that rightly (for indeed they were my relations, according to the flesh), yet since I became a pilgrim they have disowned me, and I also have rejected them.?

    Part II is a lot less personal, and it seems much easier to be a successful pilgrim. In part, this is explained by the fact that Christian worked so hard to clear so many dangers out of the way for those who came after him. Dangers that nearly cost Christian his life, or at least his faith, his wife and sons pass through with very little hardship. The Slough of Despond? No problem. The Valley of Humiliation? Hardly even mentioned. The Enchanted Ground and the Arbors so tempting to weary travelers but so deadly to those who succumb to their weariness and rest a while? Christiana and her companions pass by without a second glance. What hardships they do face, their guide Great-heart sweeps aside for good, presumably clearing the way for even more pilgrims to reach the Promised Land.

    While there are challenges to be met along the way in Part II, they are primarily challenges based on the pilgrim?s own inherent weakness as women and children. Bunyan mentions this weakness over and over, and it?s because of this weakness that Christiana and her party get special guidance to the City from the brave Great-heart. Not only does Great-heart have intimate knowledge of the way ahead, any danger they encounter, he dispatches with fierce efficiency. After he?s vanquished several foes, he and the other men who?ve joined the pilgrims actually seek out giants to slay. Great-heart is so successful and so easily so, I found myself wondering why he didn?t help Christian and so many other pilgrims before. Maybe it?s some statement about how the challenges one meets along the road match the challenges one holds in one?s individual soul. Or something like that.

    Christiana initially takes along her children and her friend, Mercy, whose decision to become a pilgrim is inspired by Christiana?s faith. They travel in the wake of Christiana?s husband?s success, celebrated everywhere they go as the family of Christian. As they travel the King?s Highway, they pick up more and more followers. While in Part I Christian seemed reluctant to take on imperfect travel companions, Christiana?s crew makes concessions to those who are week in body, mind, or spirit to help them along. I don?t quite get why Christian?s journey was so solitary while his wife?s is a community event.

    Not knowing the details of the ebb and flow of religious persecution in England during the mid- to late-17th century---and not really caring to take time out to research it at this point---it?s not clear to me how many of the differences between Part I and Part II are a reflection of the change in acceptance of Puritans between the writing of Part I and the writing of Part II, and how much they are simply a reflection of the evolution of Bunyan?s personal faith. It?s possible the differences could also be influenced by the commercial success of Part I. Perhaps after that success, Bunyan?s goals were different for the second part. I?m sure someone?s written about this, and I could probably read for years about it, if I chose to. Which I don?t.

    There were a fair number of events in both parts of the book that confused me (not the least of which is the recommendation that all of the children born to Christiana?s sons? wives along the way be left to be raised by a man they meet along the way), but I also found some very poignant language and imagery. Great-heart especially has some gems, like when he?s describing the difficulties of Mr Fearing, who reached the Celestial City but was so fearful the whole way that he needed special help and encouragement practically to the very end. ?He had, I think, a Slough of Despond in his mind, a slough that he carried everywhere with him, or else he could never have been as he was.?

    This opened up for me a new possible interpretation of ?the fear of God.? I?d always thought of this as just the fear of God?s punishment, but I wonder if it could also refer to a fear of God?s grace, or a fear of being found unworthy of such grace. Or maybe it?s a fear of leaving behind the thoughts and behaviors that are familiar but that hold us back from being more than what we are in this moment.

    At any rate, I?m glad that I read the book. I don?t know that I have a great understanding of Puritan theology or even a better understanding of it than I had before I started, but it was fairly pleasant to read. At the same time, I am very glad that I?m done with it. I was getting a little tired of pilgrimages by the end of Part II. And I really need to go back and read Little Women again; I can't quite imagine how the March girls go about "playing pilgrims" based on this book.
  • (3/5)

    1 person found this helpful

    This is an abbreviated version with fantastic illustrations. Probably very good to read to children but a bit too simplistic for adults. Enjoyable none the less.

    1 person found this helpful

  • (2/5)
    For those too lazy to read the Bible or too dumb to form even a surface level interpretation of Christianity, there’s The Pilgrim’s Progress. The journey of the Christian spirit cloaked in the thinnest of allegory, The Pilgrim’s Progress is a book in two parts, the first part dealing with a man named Christian making his way to the celestial city (heaven, obviously). Part two follows his wife Christiana making a very, very similar journey. The names are indicative of the level of both subtlety and creativity that Bunyan put into this book.

    The lack of subtlety is perhaps an unfair criticism, as Bunyan was clearly writing this book for the absolute lowest common denominator, but that proves to be a problem in its own right. For instance, Bunyan writes about brothers Passion and Patience to illustrate that patience is a virtue and that rash passion is bad: this is the 1678 precursor to the kid shows that nowadays run on the Christian TV channels to teach young children how to behave. Though Bunyan litters the book with Bible quotes, this book doesn’t contain any hint of the moral complexity that the Bible often explores: these lessons are black-and-white, the completely one-dimensional characters identified as on the side of good or evil immediately once their names are revealed (Goodwill, Faithful, and Old Honest are all good, surprise surprise). Not only does Bunyan make everything as simple as possible to promote mass consumption, but he also tries to gussy up the lessons by adding action scenes throughout the journey. In part 1 Christian fights a demon, and then in part 2 no less than four giants are slain, and the beast from the Book of Revelation is driven off as well (suggesting that Bunyan never grasped any of the symbolic meaning of the Book of Revelation at all). This is the Hollywood blockbuster of its time, designed to entertain and make the ideas within palatable to as broad an audience as possible, not to challenge the reader in any way. Unfortunately, the Bible isn't something that can be reduced to this type of bland and bite-sized entertainment without losing much of what makes it great.

    What makes this book so painful to read is that Bunyan’s purpose in writing it, to set out the path a person needs to follow to get into heaven, has been done so much better elsewhere. Specifically Dante’s Divine Comedy puts Pilgrim’s Progress to shame in every way that I can think of, not to mention the Bible of course. Dante’s Divine Comedy is the closer parallel, as Dante is also using the journey of a man to illustrate the necessary traits and steps for getting into heaven and what steps to avoid. Dante not only wrote of the circles of Hell, levels of purgatory, and spheres of heaven to illustrate how a person should act, he was also doing a myriad of other things as well: writing about Italian politics at the time, merging the classical myths and teachings with the Christian system of morality, writing a moving letter to his deceased first love Beatrice, redefining the Italian language, and mapping the heavenly cosmos in detail. Not only did Dante do all of this, but he also did it all exceptionally well. For instance, each of the three stairs at the entrance to the mountain of Purgatory has a specific meaning- nothing is added at random, everything is in its place. Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress, in comparison, seems slapdash and lazy. Bunyan isn’t trying to do very much, just sketch some moral lessons that lead a soul to heaven in the least nuanced manner possible. Why is the Slough of Despond located where it is? Or the arbor called Slothful’s Friend? And why does Christian run into Atheist when he does? And why doesn’t Christiana run into Atheist at all? The answer seems to be that Bunyan decided to put those challenges where they are because that's when he thought up the lesson while writing the story, not because he had a clear concept of a soul’s journey, or that the placement was particularly symbolic, or any other good reason. He could have switched around the challenges the pilgrims faced in their journeys and nothing would have been lost. Thus, you finish Pilgrim’s Progress and feel nothing comparable to the unified vision of the universe that you get with Dante, just a bunch of disjointed lessons that are mostly mind-numbingly simplistic. It doesn’t help that Bunyan decides to go over the same journey twice, with only slightly different challenges the second time around.

    Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress is a story of the soul’s journey to heaven that delivers only the simplest lessons, told in an uncreative way, and which seems thrown together instead of set in a specific order for a specific purpose. Despite the action added by Bunyan the journey isn’t a particularly interesting one- it's lacking all subtlety and moral complexity- and it’s rendered even more boring by the journey happening twice. There is no reason to read this book while there are still copies of The Divine Comedy and the Bible left in the world. Your time is much better spent reading one of those- a few pages of either have more worth than the entirety of The Pilgrim's Progress.
  • (2/5)
    John Bunyan writes, Pilgrim’s Progress; his allegory, his dream; depicting a spiritual journey leading to everlasting freedom while he himself was in prison. Dreams were given great significance in the ancient world. Pilgrim’s Progress is a dream, with characters and events symbolizing knowledge, and lessons learned throughout the story, which is quite an adventure. An adventure, that would appeal to both adult and child.
  • (3/5)
    This 1678 work is Christian allegory with a capital C. It may not be necessary to be a Christian to love this, but I’m sure it helps. A lot. A whole lot. Particularly helps to be a “fire and brimstone” Christian who believes humans aren’t just fallen but completely depraved and not about to make it into Heaven unless they walk one narrow path. I’m not a Christian--I’m an atheist. That doesn’t stop me from loving Dante’s Divine Comedy, also a work suffused with Christian themes--but Bunyan is no Dante. There is something very human, let alone humanistic about Dante. Wonderful stories--often about real people and historic personages such as Vergil and Brutus with which Dante peopled his Hell, Purgatory and Heaven. Bunyan is much more abstract--his journey to the Celestial City is filled with such figures as “Pliance,” “Worldly Wiseman,” “Evangelist” and “Hopeful.” Dante’s a poet--Bunyan a preacher--and believe me, you can tell. Honestly I’m surprised I didn’t completely hate it, especially since I don’t like allegory that is so blatant. I read it because it’s on Good Reading’s “100 Significant Books”--and because it keeps coming up over and over in books I’ve read. It provides the title and theme for Thackeray’s Vanity Fair and the theme and structure for Alcott’s Little Women where the March sisters play at taking up Christian’s “burden.” The Introduction of the edition I read tells us that “for two hundred years, The Pilgrim’s Progress was, after the Bible, the most widely read book in the English-speaking world” and the “most widely influential book ever written in English.” From time to time I’ve heard of the “Slough of Despond,” “Doubtful Castle” and the “Delectable Mountains.” I think that kept my interest pretty keen through Part One, where Christian, taking up his “burden” of sin, climbs mountains and walks through such valleys as the Shadow of Death. Being raised a Christian as well as encountering the literary allusions to it meant I had enough of the context to keep me fairly engaged. Endnotes and footnotes and even sidenotes in the Barnes and Noble edition helped a lot in keeping the 17th century prose understandable. Without them a lot of the doctrinal squabbles between Catholics, Anglicans, Puritans, Quakers and other non-conformists alluded to in the work would have slipped right on by--although the spirit of intolerance towards those of Bunyan's coreligionists who don’t agree with him didn’t need footnotes to come through. There's only one way to Heaven--Bunyan's way. You go through the Wicket Gate, with your Robe and your Mark and your Roll or you fall into Hell. On the other hand, knowing Bunyan wrote this in prison, where he spent twelve years because he refused to abandon his Christian principles, did mean that when Christian encountered monsters and beasts and mobs I knew these weren’t just puffed up imaginary impediments. Bunyan walked the walk; I had to respect that. He lived this story. That came through too.I did start finding it a slog in Part Two. That part, written years later, isn’t a continuation as much as a sequel. One where wife Christiana and kidlets follow the road already traveled; I found that too repetitive. I think I was also irked that while Christian, who abandoned his family, is able to strike out on his own, his distaff counterpart has to have a guide, Greatheart. While Christian gets to fight the monster Apollyon himself, his wife stands by while her champion slays all in their way. If all is allegory, what does that say about the weakness of women’s souls? On the other hand, this part of the story at least is more compassionate than hectoring, as pilgrims help those weaker to make the journey. I am glad I did finally read Pilgrim’s Progress, if only to better catch the frequent references in literature. I don't know that I can honestly say I liked Part One though, and I wasn't far into Part Two before I was soooo tired of this. Yet I can’t help think a lot of fantasy from The Wizard of Oz to Narnia owes a debt to Bunyan. At the least, it might give any rereads of Little Women a whole new layer of meaning...
  • (5/5)
    I'm actually upset at myself that I hadn't read this before now. Hard to believe that it was written 350 years ago but still holds true for anyone today; a great way for a doubter or non believer to be introduced to the story of the Bible; though it's hard to recognize some of it.
  • (5/5)
    Great. Wonderful. Terrific! I cannot express how wonderful this book was. I loved it. My kids loved it. And now they want to read the "grown-up" version of Pilgrim's Progress.

    Also, the curriculum to go with it is AMAZING! Looking forward to going through the book again!
  • (1/5)
    This has to be one of the most tedious books ever written. The imagery used such as the Slough of Despondency is great but that's about it. It's the second time I've read it and don't think I'll manage a third.