Pilgrim’s Regress

The Pilgrim’s Regress

I. Puritania

A. Puritania is populated by good and decent people who do not really believe everything they are talking about. The formal position is very strict, but the informal position is conducive to what we are pleased to call reality.

B. “I hope,” said the Steward, “that you have not already broken any of the rules?” John’s heart began to thump, and his eyes bulged more and more, and he was at his wit’s end when the Steward took the mask off and looked at John with his real face and said, “Better tell a lie, old chap, better tell a lie. Easiest for all concerned.” (p. 5)

II. Surprised By Joy Redux

A. The vision of joy which Lewis had in his own life is carried here under the image of The Island.

B. “All the furniture of his mind was taken away” (p. 8). The desire for joy unhinges him.

C. Because joy is not something one can purchase at the store, if someone wants it badly enough, substitutes are soon offered. These are the brown girls, an image of sex as a substitute for joy. “It was me you wanted,” said the brown girl. “I am better than your silly Islands.” (p. 13).

III. The Enlightenment

A. Lewis points out in the best possible way the bogus pretensions of scientific enlightenment.

B. “But how do you know there is no Landlord?” “Christopher Columbus, Galileo, the earth is round, invention of printing, gunpowder!!” exclaimed Mr. Enlightenment in such a loud voice that the pony shied. (p. 21)

IV. Art for Art’s Sake

A. Victorian romantic poetry is so sensitive — p. 38

B. And then there are the Clevers. The Clevers have glorified the obscene — “Well, why is it better to lead to black girls in the beginning?” A low whistle ran round the whole laboratory. John knew he had made a horrible blunder. (p. 40).

C. These stark realists were made this way by the war — “But, look here,” cried John . . . (p. 41).

V. Freudian Analysis

A. Nothing here but Bulverism — p. 50.

B. The protoevangelism performed by Reason. Reason delivers John from the giant and teaches him to identify buncombe.

VI. Tundra and Swamps

A. John comes to Mother Kirk but continues to wander along the canyon. He heads north where he will find all the austere heresies.

B. After this he heads south into the land of murky, self-absorbed mysticism.

VII. John Takes a Header

A. John comes back to Mother Kirk and quits trying to save himself.

B. Then we have the regress — he returns to fight.

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