Chesterton on Bunyan

One of my pet peeves (revealed to the world most recently in Wordsmithy) is the way that many modern Christians have been cool-shamed into a patronizing attitude on the literary merits of John Bunyan.

I recently finished a great collection of Chesterton quotes put together by Kevin Belmonte, way to go Kevin, and was pleased to find these two quotes included. And bear in mind that these comments were not proceeding from any deep affection that Chesterton had for the Puritans. Chesterton was a big man, and had some big blind spots. But Bunyan’s ability to write was certainly not in that blind spot.

The Pilgrim’s Progress certainly exhibits all the marks of such a revival of primitive power and mystery . . . Nowhere, perhaps except in Homer, is there such a perfect description conveyed by the use of merely plain words” (p. 205).

“Before the Puritans were swept off the scene for ever, they had done two extraordinary things. They had broken to pieces in plain battle on an English meadow the chivalry of a great nation, bred from its youth to arms. And they had brought forth from the agony a small book, called The Pilgrim’s Progress, which was greater literature than the whole contemporary culture of the great Renaissance, founded on three generations of the worship of learning and art” (p. 206).

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