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Sunday, October 5, 2014

Sunday Guest: Christian the Pilgrim

Christian vs Apollyon

John Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress, possibly written about 1676, is imho one of the most fascinating works in Western literature. It may suffice to remember that it inspired a lot of episodes in Tolkien's and CS Lewis' novels.

As a starting point, it might have just been an edifying allegory after the manner of Medieval theater; but Bunyan succeeded in making his characters as lively and captivating as even Dante seldom did (the dialogue in Inferno 27: 112-123 is a masterpiece, but the allegorical women in Purgatorio 31: 103 ff look quite 'cold'). Moreover, in The Pilgrim's Progress the religious symbols coming from the Bible are reworked in a fantasy narrative style, see devils, dragons, giants, knights, witches. The Pilgrimage here has nothing to do with NewAgeish stuff and its sugary and harmless wisdom: though not without a perfectly British sense of humor, it confronts the reader with the hardness of the Cross, which is hardly compatible with "this world." The Second Part, telling the adventures of Christian's wife Christiana, is even more interesting insofar as the events of the First Part are "re-counted" with many significant changes, and the whole atmosphere has become different, permeated with the memory of a man who is now known to be dead.

This is another book that is basically impossible to find in Italy / in Italian.