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The Pilgrim's Progress (Penguin Classics) Paperback – January 27, 2009

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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

Often rated as important as the Bible as a Christian document, this famous story of man's progress through life in search of salvation remains one of the most entertaining allegories of faith ever written. Set against realistic backdrops of town and country, the powerful drama of the pilgrim's trials and temptations follows him in his harrowing journey to the Celestial City.
Along a road filled with monsters and spiritual terrors, Christian confronts such emblematic characters as Worldly Wiseman, Giant Despair, Talkative, Ignorance, and the demons of the Valley of the Shadow of Death. But he is also joined by Hopeful and Faithful.
An enormously influential 17th-century classic, universally known for its simplicity, vigor, and beauty of language, The Pilgrim's Progress remains one of the most widely read books in the English language.

--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

JOHN BUNYAN (1628-88) was born in Elstow, a village near Bedford. He went to school in the village and became a travelling brazier or tinker, like his father. In 1644 he joined the Parliamentary army, and served in the garrison of Newport Pagnell, a Bedfordshire town, until 1646. He married in 1649 and had four children, though the name of his first wife is unknown. As part of her dowry she brought two popular books of devotion; and these, along with a series of experiences, triggered a complex conversion experience, not fully resolved until 1653, when Bunyan joined a separatist congregation in Bedford. Soon Bunyan began preaching and engagin in controversy with other reiligous groups. He wrote his first book, Some Gospel Truths Opened in 1656. Soon after the Restoration he was arrested for unlicensed preaching in the village of Lower Samsell and, because he refused to stop peraching, remain in prison in Bedford for twelve years. His account of his trial was published posthumously in 1765. He was imprisoned again for about six months in 1676. He continued to write, and to preach in Bedfordshire and London. In 1678 he published the first part of The Pilgrim's Progress. It became am immediate bestseller, running through twelve ditions and being translated into Dutch, French and Welsh during Bunyan's lifetime; since then it has been traslated into more than two hundred languages. Its counterpart, The Life and Death of Mr Badman (1682) is epic in cope. The second part of The Pilgrim's Progress came out in 1684, partly in response to a number of imitations and spurious sequels. A Book for Boys and Girls, one of the earliest examples of literature for children, was published in 1686. Bunyan died in 1688 for a fever contracted while riding from Reading to London to try to effect a reconciliation between a father and son. He left a number of works in manuscript, many of them published by Chalres Doe in his folio of 1692, which also contained the first (brief) biography of Bunyan. ROGER POOLEY teaches at Keele University. His Cambridge Ph.D. thesis on Bunyan was partly supervised by the late Roger Sharrock, the editor of the previous Penguin Classics Pilgrim's Progress. He is the author of English Prose of the Seventeenth Century (1993) and a number of shorter pieces on Bunyan and other seventeenth-century figures. He has co-edited The Lord of the Journey; A Reader in Christina Spirituality and The Discerning Reader: Literature and Theory in Christian Perspecitve. He is an active member of the International John Bunyan Society.
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Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Classics
  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; 11th Edition edition (January 27, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141439718
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141439716
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.9 x 7.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (91 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #51,300 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

195 of 198 people found the following review helpful By Christian Buckley on November 20, 2004
Format: Paperback
I came across this book years ago when I was accepted to University. The book was on the preferred reading list for new students, and so I picked up a copy without knowing anything about it. For those who may have read a "modern English" version of this classic, I'd say go back and read it again in its original form. I've read both, and I prefer the book the way it was written and published in 1678. It reads somewhat like a script, with sections beginning with the name of the person talking, and a constant barrage of characters coming and going.

The book begins with an apology from the author in the form of prose - John Bunyan was a very humble man who spent years in prison for his religious beliefs. My copy also includes a fascimile of the orginal title page from the first edition. The story follows the life of a man named Christian and his travels through the world, trying to find the Celestial city and have the burden on his back removed. As with everything in this story, there is no hiding the truth about who the characters are and what they want with the protagonist - all of the names are quite literal in their descriptions of the characters. For example, he encounters people named Piety, Simple, Sloth, and Presumption. And throughout the story, his burden is literally a heavy weight on his back.

The book has two section, both written in the similitude of a dream. The language is rich and beautiful (which is why I recommend the un-modified version), and sends a message of faith and optimism. I highly recommend it.
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Format: Paperback
I was originally going to title this review, "I Can't Believe I Liked This Book!" I started reading The Pilgrim's Progress as part of a quest to read history's great novels. After making my way through Cervantes's Don Quixote (which took me 82 days), I began reading The Pilgrim's Progress in small chunks, and got through the first 100 pages or so in about two weeks... And then I stopped.

Four months later, I resumed my quest. This time, I committed myself to reading in longer blocks of time. After all, The Pilgrim's Progress consists of two ~130-page Parts, neither of which is broken down into smaller chapter units, so stopping and starting seriously disrupts the flow. Still, I was having difficulty. The language is so archaic and the allegories are particularly hard to follow for someone (such as myself) with virtually no background in Biblical studies. But then a funny thing happened: in attempting to demonstrate the difficulty of the language to my wife, I began reading aloud... And then everything started to sink in, for me! I offer this as a tip to anyone else who at first has trouble getting into the book.

Prior to my experiment with reading aloud, I would often find myself needing to go back and re-read a paragraph or even a half-page. This is not a book that you can read casually -- you must be in deep concentration while reading. The payoff, however, is definitely worth it. This is a tale, after all, that has stood the test of time: the most influential English-language book in all of Christendom.

The story of the more-famous First Part centers around Christian, who was formerly known as Graceless.
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42 of 44 people found the following review helpful By M. M. on May 3, 2009
Format: Paperback
I read this book many years ago and what had struck me about it was how easy it was to follow and understand. I decided to get another copy since the one I read before had disintegrated.

This is indeed the true script of the Pigrim's Progress with it's unabridged length and archaic language. It's fine to read if you have read other versions that are easier to understand but if this is your first time reading the Pilgrim's Progress, you will be spending half your time deciphering what you just read.

Overall, still a good book but beware the prose of the book.
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31 of 34 people found the following review helpful By The Actor on January 16, 2006
Format: Paperback
This is a brilliant work on the Christian life. Historically, it has been the second-best-selling book of ALL TIME, right after the Bible itself. I'd say its status is well-deserved; it is pretty much THE classic work on the Christian life.

As fiction, this work is thoroughly engrossing. While many books will not "age" well, this classic is timeless. It has truly stood the test of time. It is very fun to read, and the old English is not hard to get past.

This is great theology too. It belongs on the bookshelf of every Christian.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Mrs. O on March 27, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is often overlooked as it can be a hard read in the original language. We read this with a group of people and work and followed along with the audio. The message is profound and transcends time as it metaphorically links the struggles of all believers to the saving grace of God. GREAT BOOK TO READ with a group and then have discussion - would also be good to listen to audio of the book to get the full effect of the time it was written in and not have to worry about miss pronouncing something.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Avid Reader on May 6, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book has been around almost as long as the King James Bible but it still holds tremendous potential for helping one understand the Bible. It is a delight to read because of the clever way biblical content is woven into the story. The author was considered relatively undeducated in his day but his vocabulary and content make one marvel at what passes for education in our day. If you were brought up reading the King James Bible, you'll love this work in it's 17th century language. There were several places where I chuckled at the author's deft manner.
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