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The Oxford History of the Novel in EnglishVolume 1: Prose Fiction in English from the Origins of Print to 1750$
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Thomas Keymer

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780199580033

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199580033.001.0001

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Bunyan and Religious Allegory

Bunyan and Religious Allegory

(p.310) 19 Bunyan and Religious Allegory
The Oxford History of the Novel in English

Michael Davies

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines the relationship between John Bunyan’s religious allegories and eighteenth-century English novels. Though it was one of the most widely read works during the period, The Pilgrim’s Progress had a distinctly uneven reputation among readers and writers of polite eighteenth-century literature. In contrast to novels of domestic realism, Bunyan’s religious allegory insistently directs readers outwards to the Bible and otherworldly salvation while simultaneously enacting the experience of faith on the page. However, The Pilgrim’s Progress does exhibit formal characteristics of realism with its homely dialogue and focus on individual interiority, and it remains troubled throughout by its forsaken relation to worldly domesticity. Though his subsequent allegories moved even further from narrative realism and his canonical importance was only established in the nineteenth century, Bunyan still identified a narrative space and market appeal for the kinds of domestic crisis and drama that would become central to the novel.

Keywords:   John Bunyan, influence, allegory, reading, the Bible, typology, religious literature, realism, domestic, novel

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