Pilgrim's Progress, Puritan Progress: Discourses and Contexts
For at least the first two centuries following its publication, John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress was among the most formative and beloved books England contributed to the Western tradition, second only to the English Bible in popularity and influence.
In this important new study, Kathleen Swaim recognizes Bunyan as a major Puritan cultural figure and Pilgrim's Progress as a multilayered locus of cultural, historical, and theological, as well as literary, systems. Her work maps shifts of cultural and theological emphasis as Christian's focus on the Word and Protestant martyrdom in Part I (1678) gives way to Christiana's characteristic emphasis on good works and the material reality of the Church in the world in Part II (1684).
Swaim's study locates Part I of Pilgrim's Progress within the discourses of allegory, myth, the biblical and sermonic word, and the conversion narrative tradition. It locates Part II within modern social constructions, particularly those of gender, and within contemporary church practices and emerging new modes of representation. It draws upon Bunyan's numerous other works to explicate Pilgrim's Progress as a mirror of evolving late seventeenth-century Puritan culture.
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