John Bunyan’s ‘Pilgrim’s Progress‘ was a must read for me having lived in Bedfordshire for most of my adult life. Bunyan haunts the area. There’s The Bunyan Centre, The Bunyan Meeting House, (which houses a wonderful museum reflecting his life and beliefs) Bunyan Road, The Statue of Bunyan, The Bunyan Tree and The Bunyan Trail.Here’s me sitting eating a picnic
seeking inspiration beside the tree where Bunyan allegedly preached :
I started reading the original version but, since I read for pleasure before bedtime I found myself nodding off and not really appreciating either the beauty or the meaning of the text. Next I cheated and downloaded a translated to modern English version.
I found Christian’s journey inspiring, as I expected I might. His encounters of evil and good along his pilgrimage to guide or distract him from his path, or even to harm him, were plausible and the meaning of the allegory clear. The path to tread is an extremely narrow one and he meets all sorts of characters with human failings along the way; some of whom bear a reflection of yourself which is meant as a warning, I feel.
Strangely, it was not fighting with Appolyon or even Vanity Fair which made me most fearful as I journeyed with Christian towards the Celestial City, it was the King’s Arbour; a place for pilgrim’s to rest. The danger lurking here is that if you fall asleep in your exhaustion and pleasure to relax, you are filled with forgetfulness. It made me think of one of the greatest foes of ageing and the least understood – Dementia. I’m not sure if this passed through Bunyan’s mind at all, but that is the joy of an allegory ~ the emotions and senses are stirred by the experiences which are most pertinent to the reader’s own life, although each is also made aware of the failings and successes of others as paths are crossed.
I must admit that I found the second half of the book harder to concentrate on, since it appeared to be quite repetitive, as Christiana and her sons are inspired to follow in the footsteps of Christian. In a sense I understand that we do need to revisit truths to learn by them and maybe that was Bunyan’s intention. For me, maybe I need to read this second half again at a later date to fully appreciate it.