Pilgrim’s Progress Published
Orkneys The 18th of February 1678 AD
The date taken as that when John Bunyan ’s The Pilgrim’s Progress was published is February 18 1678, the day when the book was listed in a Term Catalogue. There is still much scholarly debate as to when Bunyan wrote the first part of his great work, often coming down to which spell in prison for his preaching outside the established church saw him begin the book.
For modern readers without any great religious affinity the book is now in truth a very difficult read, a tale of righteous progress beset with difficulties, the great morality tale. But while the whole is hard to swallow, the parts are often delightful: Bunyan was a plain poet with a gift for language, many of his phrases part of our lives just as Shakespeare before him informed our common idiom: how many of us have used the terms ‘slough of despond’ and ‘the straight and narrow’? And how many of us sang at school the hymn taken from Pilgrim’s Progress, ‘He who would valiant be”? It had wider impact too in our culture: John Buchan chose Mr Standfast as the title of one of his thrillers; and the magazine Vanity Fair is a Bunyanism.
A tinker turned preacher, Bunyan the author became enormously successful in his own time, in demand as a speaker and preacher around his native Bedford and throughout the country; and his book has never been out of print since it first appeared.
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