Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Book 53 of 2013: The Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan

One of the things that I've been doing whilst working through my the EA300 course materials is to make a note of all the books that get a mention that we aren't studying. Periodically a book'll get a mention in a special box in the Study Guide, it gives an overview of what the book's about and might get mentioned in a couple of the essays that we have to read. There's also a bit at the end of some of the Blocks with 'Suggested Further Reading' and a list of other related or similar texts.

I've been carefully noting all of these down, and downloading any that are available free for my Kindle. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland was one of the first I got, but The Pilgrim's Progress was one of the next.

Image from Wikipedia
This is a religious allegory which follows the character of Christian, a sort of everyman character, as he travels towards the Celestial City, aka Heaven. Along the way he has to go through all sorts of trials and tribulations, but thanks to various Christian messages he is able to overcome these hurdles and learn from them, along with the help of several other characters.

I decided to read this because it not only gets several mentions in my course book but it also is important to the plot of Little Women. Little Women begins with the four March sisters each being given a copy of Pilgrim's Progress and their story throughout the rest of the book follows the course of Christian in the story. At times they actually 'play' the story and there are frequent allusions made to it throughout the book.

Obviously, as it's a Christian allegory, it's very heavy on the religious messages. Although it's only 121 pages long, it took me five days to read because I struggled to read more than a few pages of it at a time. In part it was due to the constant hammering home of the central messages, but also because it was published way back in 1678 and the language is quite different to modern English.

I have to say, it's unlikely that I'll ever pick it up and read it again. It's not something I would say that I enjoyed reading, although I'm glad that I have. I think that I was better able to appreciate the links between it and Little Women far better than I would've done if I'd just read the list of similarities in the Study Guide and the blurb on the book included with this. I was also able to reference it quite confidently in my assignment which I was pleased about.

And who knows, perhaps someday this information will come in handy for a pub quiz or something.

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