There are a handful of books which, once I am done reading them, I start right over again at the beginning. They are in what might be called my “perpetual stack.” Then in that stack are some “perpetual writers,” defined as those authors I want always to be reading something from — e.g. G.K Chesterton, C.S. Lewis, Jonathan Edwards, and Thomas Watson.When I am done with a particular book, something else from that writer goes in the rotation. These are all books that I chip away at, to be distinguished from roaring clean through them.
Anyhow, one of the books I work through, over and over again, is The Pilgrim’s Progress. Lewis, who shares my high view of Bunyan, in his great Experiment in Criticism, defined a worthwhile book as one that repays rereading. Bunyan does this a lot. The other day I ran across this passage, already highlighted, but delightfully encountered and well-met again. The giant Maul comes out to confront Great-heart and company, and upbraids him with robbing the country, and doing this with the “worst of thefts.”
“These are but generals, said Mr. Great-heart; come to particulars, man.”
And there Bunyan is in a nutshell — cadenced wisdom.