October 21, 2017
John Bunyan, Vanity FairOn this day in 1675 John Bunyan went to prison for the third time, convicted of preaching his Baptist faith without a license. In over 12 years of confinement Bunyan wrote numerous books and pamphlets, including Part I of A Pilgrim's Progress. It sold 100,000 copies in his lifetime, and is still reported to be the most sold book in the world, next to the Bible. Christian's allegorical journey from "this World to that which is to come" requires him to triumph over Obstinate, Pliable, Worldly-Wise, Ready-to-Halt and Madame Bubble; to negotiate the Slough of Despond and the town of Carnal Policy; to cross the Valley of Humiliation and the Plain of Ease; to rise above Lucre-Hill and the Delectable Mountain; and, like all who would arrive at the Celestial City, to make no purchase at Vanity Fair:
And moreover, at this fair there is at all times to be deceivers, cheats, games, plays, fools, apes, knaves, and rogues and that of every kind.
Here are to be seen, too-and that for nothing-thefts, murders, adulteries, false-swearers, and that of a blood red colour....
Still as I pulled, it came; and so I penned
It down: until it came at last to be,
For length and breadth, the bigness which you see.
Wouldest thou see a truth within a fable?
Art thou forgetful? Wouldest thou remember
From New-Year's day to the last of December?
Then read my fancies; they will stick like burs,
And may be, to the helpless, comforters. . . .
Wouldst thou be in a dream, and yet not sleep?
Or wouldst thou in a moment laugh and weep?
Wouldst thou lose thyself and catch no harm,
And find thyself again without a charm?
Wouldst read thyself, and read thou knowest not what,
And yet know whether thou art blest or not,
By reading the same lines? Oh, then come hither,
And lay my book, thy head, and heart together.
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