John Bunyan: The Man and His Works

John Bunyan: The Man and His Works

John Bunyan: The Man and His Works

John Bunyan: The Man and His Works

Excerpt

The warm welcome accorded by the English critics to the French edition of this book has given me the greatest pleasure. In the first place, it is to them that I owe its appearance in an English version; and secondly, since Bunyan's works are justly considered a specifically English domain which any foreigner enters at his peril, I was happy to find that my judges thought I had succeeded in understanding the works and the man who wrote them.

It is true that in France Bunyan is hardly more than a name. Even among students of English he is treated with a polite discretion which suggests that though they may have read him as a duty, they have not enjoyed him. The fact that I was addressing myself in the first place to this Continental public explains certain characteristics of the work. If I had written directly in English for British and American readers I should have stressed points differently and some of the appendices would have been unnecessary. However, I did not feel that I could, or should, change anything in its arrangement, for a book should present a considered and coherent whole, and the modification of a few details may alter its entire aspect.

As I have tried to show my fellow-countrymen, to understand Bunyan is to penetrate the spiritual significance of Puritanism, which has had a profound influence on the Anglo-Saxon mind. Its virile and impassioned faith, its Biblical literalism, its stern moral demands -- all these sources of inspiration in the Puritan life of the seventeenth century are so foreign to most of our contemporaries that it is difficult for them to sympathise with the apostles and soldiers of this historic movement, or even to imagine the atmosphere of their day. Indeed, Professor Perry Miller goes so far as to assert that only a Puritan who is also a dramatic artist can present an adequate picture of Puritanism, and that Bunyan alone fulfils both conditions.

This representative function of Bunyan is so important that it . . .

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