Book Meme Day 23: A book you wanted to read for a long time but still haven’t

Oh boy, where do I begin? There are more than I can list, and one is not more prominent than all others, so what follows will only be a selection, in no particular order.

Farmer Giles of Ham by J.R.R. Tolkien

This little-known children’s story is much shorter and more whimsical than The Hobbit, and not tied into the mythology of Middle-Earth. In it, Tolkien tells of the brave Farmer Giles who must confront the dragon Chrysophylax to protect his little town in the Thames valley. I have a very nice hardback copy, with the original illustrations by Pauline Baynes that Tolkien loved, and it has been waiting for me to read it for years. Somehow I haven’t got around to it yet, but at least I have it.

The Once and Future King by T.H. White

A reputed classic of modern Arthurian literature, and, I’m told, just a really fun set of stories. I started reading it a long time ago, probably when I was in junior high school, but stopped very shortly, put off by the anachronistic and whimsical side of Merlin, which I thought very disrespectful to so august a legend. Now, though, I am eager to revisit it, but I can’t say when.

The Magic Bicycle by John Bibee

A strange, mysterious book about which I know little. You know how, when you were a child, there were always these intriguing books at the bottom of your parents’ bookshelves, or lying in some dusty pile in a corner, which you never read or knew much about and which usually had become such a part of the background of your house that you hardly ever noticed them? This is one of those books, for me. I think it technically belonged to my older sister, but she never read it much and left it behind when she married and moved out. My dad commented once or twice that he remembered it being very good, but a little scary for children. Of course, these were magic words to me, but it’s always remained on a dusty bottom shelf, patiently waiting until I find time to open its secrets.

The War With Hannibal by Livy

Selections of this famous Roman historian were required reading for some of my classics courses at university, but Livy was so dense that I never got past perhaps a chapter or two in my freshman year. Still, I have always intended to go back and read most, if not all, of it. Ancient history is always fascinating, doubly so when told by the ancient historians themselves, who were as much storytellers as academics (some might say moreso).

The Faerie Queene by Edmund Spenser

A classic of English Renaissance literature, and a chivalric epic with deeply Christian themes. Or so is its reputation. I haven’t read it beyond a few small selections in high school, which hardly count. My only real familiarity comes from the children’s adaptation in Saint George and the Dragon, my pick for Day 21. Don’t think I even own a complete copy! But someday, someday I will read it in its entirety.

All these, plus many works by and about C.S. Lewis, George MacDonald, G.K. Chesterton, Lord Dunsany, and others with whom they all associated and wrote about. And there are the other ancient and medieval works, the philosophical treatises, and the allegedly wonderful novels that I am told I must read. The world is too large and my life too short for all the reading and the living I desire!

Book Meme Day 18: A Book That Disappointed Me

And how, exactly, is this different from “overrated?” I suppose there is a technical distinction: an overrated book is specifically one that failed to live up to its hype by other people, whereas a disappointing book failed to live up to your own personal expectations, even as they may differ from those of other readers.

Expectations, of course, are tricky little beasties. They can sneak into your mind’s eye in the wake of their even trickier cousins, assumptions. Some of them are reasonable and well-informed, but many are not. They feed on your wilder emotions and buried memories, especially when your most valiant guards – humility, caution, and perspective – are lax at the posts.

Actually, mine, for this book, are not so psychological. They were formed from its reputation as an adventure classic and from its film adaptation, which is also, in my opinion, an adventure classic of a minor sort. And, to be honest, I still like the book. It just was a very different book from what I was led to believe, and possibly, from what it had initially wanted to be.

I write of The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas.

The Three Musketeers had prepared me for Dumas’ rambling, serialized, paid-by-the-word narrative style, but in The Count of Monte Cristo it almost seems as if he is deliberately avoiding plot and excitement. As with Musketeers, he will start with an engaging scene to draw you in and paint an energetic picture of the setting. You will keep reading, waiting for the excitement and adventure to erupt before you and continue unabated until the end. You will wait. There will be lots of intrigue, but only the occasional flash of swashbuckling. Subplots will begin to arise one after the other, and soon every side character (of which there are many) will have their history explained to you in narration, and perhaps also a chapter or few to take you into their homes, their families, their businesses, and their secret dealings. You continue to read, expecting a larger plot to come, but mostly hoping for more of that swashbuckling of which you have got only a taste. The subplots continue, until you begin to realize that they are all fuzzy threads that are being clumsily entwined, as though a nine year-old has gotten hold of a weaving kit. Alarmed, you keep reading. Prospects of great adventure keep rising up, and then hiding themselves quickly. Emotions simmer as most characters refuse to act on them, families plot against each other, our hero doesn’t do much, there are parties and secret meetings and financial speculations, until suddenly a climax is formulated in which some bad fellows get a public humiliation, someone probably commits suicide, and our hero, who has not done much, goes off into a long-postponed happy ending that nonetheless feels a bit odd to the reader.

That’s the gist of it. It’s a soap opera, and like a soap opera The Count of Monte Cristo lacks focus. It starts splendidly and gets you excited about its premise. The famous story is this: Edmond Dantes gets betrayed by his best friend and sent to the dreaded island prison Chateau d’If, from which after many years he escapes, finds a wealth of buried pirate treasure, and returns to Paris with a new, fabulously powerful identity as the titular Count with the intention of ruining the lives of all who had a hand in his betrayal. Eventually, though, Dumas gets too involved in all his dozens of side characters, to the extreme detriment of his protagonist. Edmond barely appears in the latter half of the book, and as a result I never got to know him as well as I wanted. He is the most interesting character in the book by far, but Dumas never stays with him very long, instead splitting off into the lives of minor characters who ultimately are not that important or that interesting. Too many subplots clutter the pages, and most of them do not have a clear arc, that I could tell. You get lost in all the names and places and financial planning, until you’ve forgotten what happened five chapters ago and are completely lost when Dumas switches to continue another group’s story.

The worst criticism I can level at the majority of this book is that it is boring. Bogged down, stagnant, muddled.

There is, eventually, a climax involving the main plot and Dantes having the option of revenge. It is pretty good, but not nearly as exciting or satisfactory as I had hoped after the hundreds and hundreds of pages I’d read. And the ending, with Dantes sailing into the sunset with his lover, his young former servant (I forget her name), is meant to be happy, but it does not settle right for the modern reader. By this time Dantes is at least twice the age of the girl, and has a nurturing father-daughter relationship with her. She has pined after him for years, it is said, but his emotions for her are never convincing as love, just general gratitude for her friendship and service. So when he accepts her romantically and they sail off, it doesn’t feel right. He’s too old for her, and I’m not convinced he’s really in love with her. It was frustrating. I felt that both I and Dantes deserved better after suffering so much.

But hey, I still said I liked it, didn’t I? Well yeah. The basic plot is still a classic one, and there are flashes of great intrigue going on. It’s a darker book than The Three Musketeers, though, lacking Dumas’ sharp humor.  Someday I may reread it, and maybe then I will discover a labyrinth of careful psychological character studies and intricate, purposeful themes. But when I read it, especially since it lacked the high adventure I had so hoped for, The Count of Monte Cristo disappointed.

Book Meme Day 11: A Book I Hate

At least this meme topic is pretty straightforward. I’ve already written about my extreme distaste for Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five, so this time I will spread the hate around. In fact, this post is a bit nostalgic for me. The irony is that the book I have chosen, the first I remember hating with a passion, was required reading for one of my favorite and most beneficial classes in high school.

The book is Candide by Voltaire.

English and history professors say that Candide is an important book, a great picaresque bildungsroman and a clever satire of nearly everything. Perhaps that is part of the problem. The bildungsroman is a fine and noble genre, but I have always been suspicious of satires; they have their uses, I suppose, but they seem horribly limited and derive most of their thematic content from the tearing down of the opposing viewpoint rather than from the encouraging construction of a better one. Picaresque novels hold out the promise of entertaining adventure, but too often satire sneaks in even there to ruin all the fun by mocking someone else. Thus in the case of a picaresque satirical bildungsroman like Candide, the book is focused purely on its vulgar deconstructions of opposing viewpoints and uses its story and characters only for this purpose.

Therefore, one’s enjoyment of Candide is largely based on how much you dislike the viewpoints it attacks, whether you derive enjoyment from one-sided philosophical attacks, and whether you think vicious rapes and mutilations (of men and women) in utterly absurd situations make for uproarious comedy. For instance, the major target of Voltaire’s vitriol is the philosophy of Leibniz, which Voltaire takes to be simplistic optimism expressed as “this is the best of all possible worlds” because God is good and cannot make something imperfect. Thus the plot of Candide is about our eponymous hero trying to maintain that philosophy while all the worst conceivable events (to ridiculous and illogical levels) befall him and his friends. Now the problem is not that Leibniz is right (he isn’t), but that Voltaire attacks him by way of a Straw Man in order to suggest that because this world is obviously rotten, therefore God, if He exists, is either not good or just not involved. As anyone with simple education in Christianity can see, both of these views ignore one of the fundamental points of Christian cosmology – the Fall of Man (and with him, of all Creation). This world was once the best of all possible worlds, but sin has brought it down, and it is sin that must be dealt with. Voltaire does not see this.

So there are philosophical reasons I don’t like Candide – I think the book very poor and unconvincing on that account. Aesthetically it is ugly, depressing, and generally revels in its own ludicrous filth. It tries to be acceptable by seeking refuge in the excessively vulgar, but personally I think that very idea is an oxymoron. It thinks itself clever and may be a little, but it also thinks itself funny when it certainly is not. Now, I often do find outrageous things to be funny, as in the case of some of Monty Python’s humor or in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, but never when it is combined with filth.

In short, I hate this book. I really think the world would be slightly better if it had never been written.

Honorable Mention: The Metamorphoses of Apuleius (also called The Golden Ass, and not to be confused with Ovid’s Metamorphoses), despite it containing one of the most beautiful ancient myths, of Cupid and Psyche.

Book Meme Day 10: Favorite Classic Book

Well that’s just not fair.

First I had to define “best,” and now I have to define “classic?” You ask the impossible! Scholars and educators have debated this question for ages, with only a vague consensus on what is called the Western Canon. Wikipedia declares “A classic book is a book accepted as being exemplary or noteworthy, either through an imprimatur such as being listed in any of the Western canons or through a reader’s own personal opinion.” I’d better not define it by my own opinion, then, because all the other Meme topics are my opinion, and it would ruin the point of having limitations in these choices. So I guess I shall go by the Western Canon of Great Books. Which of course is a general outline, and can easily be modified (each university usually does modify it to their own liking).

To this I will add the following qualifications: no 20th Century books, but the definition of “book” can be flexible.

Even among this limited list, there are so many grand and important books that I admire, and would like to feature. To speak of classic literature and not laud Homer, Aristotle, Edmund Spenser, John Donne, Alexandre Dumas, Robert Louis Stevenson, Sir Walter Scott, or Dostoevsky would pain me, so please, I beg you, consider them now lauded.

Still, I choose the fourteenth-century Middle English verse romance Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.

As “the finest Arthurian romance in English,” as it is called by the Norton Anthology, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight blends beautiful language and strong moral purpose into a story of surprising nuance and complexity. On purely aesthetic grounds, the poem is exceptional, especially if translated with the alliteration intact (the excerpt below is translated by Marie Boroff). Take a moment to enjoy this description of the Green Knight, shortly after he has burst into Arthur’s hall unannounced:

And in guise all of green, the gear and the man:
A coat cut close, that clung to his sides,
And a mantle to match, made with a lining
Of furs cut and fitted—the fabric was noble,
Embellished all with ermine, and his hood beside,
That was loosed from his locks, and laid on his shoulders.
With grim hose and tight, the same tint of green,
His great calves were girt, and gold spurs under
He bore on silk bands that embellished his heels,
And footgear well-fashioned, for riding most fit.
And all his vesture verily was verdant green;
Both the bosses on his belt and other bright gems
That were richly ranged on his raiment noble
About himself and his saddle, set upon silk,
That to tell half the trifles would tax my wits,
The butterflies and birds embroidered thereon
In green of the gayest, with many a gold thread.
The pendants of the breast-band, the princely crupper,
And the bars of the bit were brightly enameled;
The stout stirrups were green, that steadied his feet,
And the bows of the saddle and the side-panels both,
That gleamed all and glinted with green gems about.
The steed he bestrides of that same green
so bright.
A green horse great and thick;
A headstrong steed of might;
In broidered bridle quick,
Mount matched man aright. (151-178)

In my reading, the poem centers around the efforts of the Green Knight Bertilak and his wife, the Lady of Castle Hautdesert, to help Arthur’s court mature by dragging them out of their comfort zone and forcing them to live up to their great name. Camelot is young at this point, its knights still “in their first age” (54) and inexperienced in life. The Green Knight has two tests for Gawain, the court’s young representative. The infamous Beheading Game tests his courage against certain death and his personal integrity in keeping a promise even to the loss of his life. The more subtle game of seduction that Lady Hautdesert plays tests Gawain’s commitment to spiritual purity, a courteous disposition, and self-control. All of these traits are essential for spiritual chivalry.

The Gawain of this poem is my favorite Arthurian knight, bar none. He is the most realistic Christian knight in literature that I have encountered because he desires so strongly to follow Christ’s example but is hindered by all the imperfections and sins that attack us in real life. The poet describes his physical and spiritual journeys with a wonderful attention to detail and a flair for descriptive passages that, while often quite long, remain nonetheless fascinating. And the passages of dialogue, which I admit are not always selling points for medieval romances, are tricky games in and of themselves, with each character cleverly concealing their true thoughts for different purposes.

Another definition of a classic story is one which “keeps on giving” to the reader. It can be endlessly read, interpreted, and reinterpreted, and it inspires people to do so because of the wealth of life lessons it yields each time. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight does this.

It also happens to be a rattling good story.

(Thank you, British writers, for inventing the phrase “rattling good story!”)

Honorable Mentions: The Odyssey by Homer and Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky.

Book Meme Day 7: An Underrated Book

I’ve been pondering the distinction between an underrated book and an overlooked book. The latter merely means that fewer people have read it than you think should have, and it is possible that the few who have read it all think it great. But the former is the opposite, meaning that many or most of those who have read the book fail to appreciate the qualities you think make it great. It is not too difficult to find an overlooked book, since most books are overlooked by most people. To decide a book is underrated is a trickier task, because it requires some knowledge of what other people think of it.

Most of the books that came to my mind fit more in the overlooked category, and thus it has been a struggle to find one that is truly underrated. Favorite books of mine like Rosemary Sutcliff’s The Lantern Bearers and George MacDonald’s Phantastes can be counted obscure, but their readers, however few, tend to praise them.

So in the end my choice for an underrated book is more a choice of an underrated main character. The novel itself has been studied ad nauseum in schools and universities, and both its emotional power and importance in American history have generally been admitted. However, my impression has been that its title character is not given the respect he so richly deserves.

The book is Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe.

I’d love to be wrong about this, but I have heard that it is vogue among academics to disparage Tom while grudgingly admitting the book’s historical importance. Uncle Tom, they say, is a poor portrayal of an African-American in literature because he always submits meekly to the violence of his evil master Simon Legree, when he should (they think) rise up and fight. Other heroic slaves, such as Eliza and George Harris, do all they can to escape and fight the slave hunters, but Tom doesn’t. His resistance is of the civil kind, refusing to obey his master only when Legree’s orders directly contradict those of God (such as when Legree orders him to whip another slave, or to stop reading the Bible). The unjust punishments for this civil disobedience he accepts without complaint, and he is always eager to do good even to those who hate him. In the words of Wikipedia, “too eager to please white people.”

In actuality, Tom is one of the greatest Christian characters in American fiction, challenging our modern sensibilities with his faithful adherence to Christ’s command “Love your enemies as yourself.” Abuse upon abuse is heaped on his head, and his response is to pray for his attacker’s soul. Even as he is beaten viciously by two slave drivers, he cries out forgiveness to them and Simon Legree, proclaiming Christ’s love and the possibility of repentance unto his dying breath. And in my estimation, he shames all the other characters, even the good and heroic ones, by his attitudes, and challenges Christians in the real world to follow our Lord’s example to such a degree. His faith is shaken at times, and he suffers doubts like even the great towers of faith throughout history have, but he never forsakes his Savior. And even in his death, Christ honors his faith, for the two men who were beating him are so convicted by their sin and Tom’s unrelenting love, that they repent and are saved.

Uncle Tom’s Cabin is not a perfect book. It is extremely melodramatic, relies often on stereotypes (of all sorts of dramatic characters), and sometimes the dialogue approaches the ridiculous (Eva’s death speech, anyone?). But Tom himself, in addition to being a living and breathing character, is also a man after God’s own heart, of whom it may be said he was a good and faithful servant of our Lord, even unto death.

Easter Sunday – Anglo-Saxon Poetry Review: “The Dream of the Rood”

Title: “The Dream of the Rood”
Author: Anonymous 8th century Anglo-Saxon, likely a member of a religious house.
Length: 158 lines
Synopsis: The nameless narrator dreams of the Cross (or “Rood,” for the archaic term) on which Christ was crucified. The Cross, finding its voice, relates to him the experience of the Crucifixion, and how it feels itself to be a fellow-participant in the event.
Version: I had the pleasure of translating The Dream of the Rood from the Old English (Anglo-Saxon) while at university, and it was the assignment I took the most pleasure in. While I’m proud of that effort, I’ll be using here Prof. Glenn’s translation, mostly because of convenience. It seems to be a good one, preserving the alliteration of the original as well as a fairly literal sense of the words.
Recommendation: T.G. Duncan, a professor at the University of St Andrews, believes this to be one of the finest religious poems of any language, and from my limited experience of that genre I agree. It is passionate, inspired, rich in symbolic imagery, and, especially for a Christian, can be quite emotional. The poet was a true artist, and The Dream of the Rood is wonderful.

Read it here in translation by Jonathan Glenn of the University of Central Arkansas! You can read more about the historical and cultural background of the poem here, as well as read the original Old English side-by-side with a modern translation, and on Wikipedia. If you want to hear the Old English read aloud (very cool!), listen here.

Key Thoughts

The poem is structured in four parts:

  1. Lines 1-27 are the Dreamer’s introduction, describing the glorious appearance of the Cross.
  2. At lines 28-77 the Cross takes over and tells of how, as a tree, it was cruelly cut down and fashioned into an instrument of death, only to be co-opted by the hero Christ as a vehicle for his victory over Death.
  3. In lines 78-121, the Cross then preaches a sermon of salvation to the Dreamer, which,
  4. in lines 122-156, the Dreamer repeats to us, the readers.

The imagery and metaphors can be difficult to decipher at times; this was the style of Old English poetry, to revel in the obscure and dreamlike, to delight in riddles. The poet here finds as many different words to refer to the Cross as he can: “wondrous tree” (“syllicre trēow”), “beacon” (“bēacen”), “gallows” (“fracodes”), “victory-beam” (“sigebēam”), and “glory’s tree” (“wuldres trēow”). Likewise he has many ways of referring to Christ: “Healer” (“Hǣlendes,” which can also be translated “Savior”), “young hero” (“geong hæleð”), “Man” (“guman”), “God of hosts” (“weruda God”)…you get the idea.

Notice the theme of strength and victory – this is a poem about a great battle, won when Christ voluntarily sacrificed Himself for a sinful mankind, and then conquered death through his resurrection. The poet views this as something so mighty and beautiful that it alone has the power to buy true life for mankind and all of creation.

Modern Christians may not recognize this Cross, whose appearance wavers between being encrusted with jewels and gold, and drenched in blood and gore.

Hwæðre ic þurh þæt gold ongytan meahte
earmra ærgewin, þæt hit ærest ongan
swætan on þā swīðran healfe. Eall ic wæs mid sorgum gedrēfed,
forht ic wæs for þære fægran gesyhðe.  Geseah ic þæt fūse bēacen
wendan wædum ond blēom; hwīlum hit wæs mid wætan bestēmed,
beswyled mid swātes gange, hwīlum mid since gegyrwed.

“Yet through that gold I clearly perceived
old strife of wretches, when first it began
to bleed on its right side. With sorrows most troubled,
I feared that fair sight. I saw that doom-beacon
turn trappings and hews: sometimes with water wet,
drenched with blood’s going; sometimes with jewels decked.” (lns. 18-23).

The change from bloody to bejewelled proclaims the preciousness of Christ’s blood, a central Easter theme. Of course, such blood would not likely be precious if the story ended with death, but the fact that the blood is expected to become a figurative cleansing agent for men’s souls makes the wearing of it a sort of badge of honor for the Cross.

I also find Christ’s portrayal quite interesting. The gospels affirm Christ’s identity as the Passover lamb of the Jewish seder; that is, the meek and humble sacrifice. But there is another element to the Crucifixion that is often overlooked – Christ’s power, even in death. Read the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, and you will not find a Jesus that is a victim, but rather one who is always in control of events. He gives the Romans permission to torture Him, He chooses to go to the Cross, and He voluntarily gives up His spirit to the Father (that’s right, Christ wasn’t killed, as though some outside force robbed Him of life; He gave up His spirit before the natural moment of death, displaying His self-control and strength of will). And The Dream of the Rood very consciously depicts this. Jesus is a great hero, the greatest, “strong and resolute” (“strang ond stiðmod”), and described with royal terms: He is “heaven’s Lord” (“heofenes Dryhten”), the “Wielder of Victories” (“sigora Wealdend”), the “Prince of glory, Heaven’s guardian” (“geweorðode, wuldres ealdor”).

Ongyrede hine þā geong hæleð, (þæt wæs god ælmihtig),
strang ond stīðmōd. Gestāh hē on gealgan hēanne,
mōdig on manigra gesyhðe, þā hē wolde mancyn lysan.
Bifode ic þā mē se beorn ymbclypte. Ne dorste ic hwæðre būgan tō eorðan,
feallan tō foldan scēatum, ac ic sceolde fæste standan.
Rōd wæs ic āræred. Āhōf ic rīcne cyning,
heofona hlāford, hyldan mē ne dorste.

The young hero stripped himself then (that was God Almighty),
strong and resolute. He ascended onto the high gallows,
brave in the sight of many, there, [since] he wished to release mankind.
I trembled when the man embraced me. However, I dared not bow down to the earth,
fall to the surface of the earth, but I had to stand fast.
I was raised [as a] cross. I lifted up the mighty king,
the lord of the heavens; I dared not bend down. (lns. 39-45)

This is no execution! Christ is preparing for battle, like a mythic hero of the pagan traditions. No man puts Him on the Cross; He mounts it Himself.  No man kills Him; He eagerly relinquishes His own life.

Yet it is not only mankind that benefits, for the poet understands Christ’s resurrection to be so mighty that it redeems all of creation from the deathly effects of Adam’s sin (as enumerated in Genesis 3) – even an inanimate object such as the Cross.  Notice that the Cross is relating its own conversion experience. As mankind was seduced by the devil in Genesis to become sinful creatures, so the Tree was cut down by evil men and made into an instrument of torture and death. Then, the Cross is washed over completely in Christ’s blood; in its own words,

…eall ic wæs mid blode bestemed,
Begoten of þæs guman sidan, siððan hē hæfde his gāst onsended.

I was all drenched with blood,
covered from the man’s side, after he had sent forth his spirit. (lns. 48-49)

This is as literal a baptism as you can get.  God promises holiness to Christians when He says ‘You shall be holy to me, for I the Lord am holy and have separated you from the peoples, that you should be mine’ (Leviticus 20:26), and likewise the Cross of the poem is become holy through its baptism.  It exults in its salvation:

Iu ic wæs georden wita heardost,
leodum laðost, ær þan ic him lifes weg
rihtne gerymde reordberendum.

Formerly, I was the most fierce of torments,
most hateful to people, before I opened the right
path of life to them, the speech-bearers. (lns. 87-89)

Like all Christians, the Cross of the poem has taken part in Christ’s death and resurrection. It’s a unique way to portray the wonderful theological truth that all of creation is wrapped up in God’s plan. In Genesis, all of creation fell with Adam’s sin. In Christ, all of creation is redeemed because of His death and resurrection. Be not proud, O death, for where is thy sting now? You are conquered, overthrown, and cast out – the Lord of Life has done so!

Se sunu wæs sigorfæst on þām siðfate,
mihtig ond spēdig, þā hē mid manigeo cōm,
gāsta weorode, on godes rīce,
anwealda ælmihtig, englum tō blisse
ond eallum ðām hālgum þām þe on heofonum ær
wunedon on wuldre, þā heora wealdend cwōm,
ælmihtig god, þær his ēðel wæs.

The Son was triumphant on that expedition,
mighty and successful, when he came with the multitude,
the host of souls, into God’s kingdom,
the Lord Almighty, to the delight of the angels,
and of all the saints, who in the heavens before
dwelled in glory, when their Ruler, the Almighty
God came, where his homeland was. (lns. 150-156)

Happy Easter to you all! I pray that your day be bright, beautiful, and full of joyful love.

Also, if you read and liked the whole poem, I myself wrote a short story inspired by it, on a similar theme, that you can read here. Let me know what you think of it!

Book Review: “The Pilgrim’s Progress” by John Bunyan

Title: The Pilgrim’s Progress
Author: John Bunyan
Format: Novel; Christian allegory
Pages: 182
First Published: 1678, in London
Version Reviewed: THE annotated PILGRIM’S PROGRESS with notes by Warren W. Wiersbe, published in 1980
Spoiler-free Synopsis: Christian, a citizen of the City of Destruction, is desperate to get rid of the mysterious Burden which is on his back and which will not leave him no matter what he does. Following the advice of a man named Evangelist, he begins a journey to the Celestial City. On the way he meets many characters and monsters, some as foes, some as friends, and still more as fellow travelers on the Way. Everyone is seeking something different and deals with the obstacles in different ways.
Reason for Beginning: One of the most important books in the English language and in Christianity. Since I love English literature and am a Christian, I wanted to read this. Continue reading “Book Review: “The Pilgrim’s Progress” by John Bunyan”