The Enchanted Forest

From John Bunyan’s classic, The Pilgrim’s Progress:

… I then saw in my dream, that they went on until they came into a certain country whose air naturally tended to make one drowsy, if he came a stranger into it. And here Hopeful began to be very dull, and heavy to sleep: wherefore he said unto Christian, I do now begin to grow so drowsy that I can scarcely hold open mine eyes; let us lie down here, and take one nap.

Christian: By no means, said the other; lest, sleeping, we never awake more.

Hopeful: Why, my brother? Sleep is sweet to the laboring man; we may be refreshed, if we take a nap.

Christian: Do you not remember that one of the shepherds bid us beware of the Enchanted Ground? He meant by that, that we should beware of sleeping; wherefore “let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober” (1 Thess. 5:6).

Hopeful: I acknowledge myself in a fault; and had I been here alone, I had by sleeping run the danger of death. I see it is true that the wise man saith, “Two are better than one” (Ecc. 4:9).

Christian: Now, then, said Christian, to prevent drowsiness in this place, let us fall into good discourse.

Hopeful: With all my heart, said the other.

Christian: Where shall we begin?

Hopeful: Where God began with us. But do you begin, if you please. …

4 thoughts on “The Enchanted Forest

  1. That’s fantastic. I think I’m due for a re-reading of Pilgrim’s Progress and Holy War.

    I love the way Bunyan writes allegorical fiction!

    Here’s a question: Do you think there is any allegorical fiction written in the last, say, 30 years that, while perhaps not as popular, has the same power and effect and originality?

  2. Well of course the Narnia Chronicles are an outstanding allegory, but those are older. Not sure about the last 30 years.

  3. I think we need to use the word “allegory” with respect to Lewis’ septet with great care. He in fact dissociates the Narniad from the allegory of Bunyan, and at one point denies that he is writing allegory at all. As he was “supposing” what Christ might be like in another world, he preferred the term “supposition.” The mixture of the real with the unreal distinguished–in his mind–the suppositional from the allegorical.

    I don’t doubt that the manner in which Lewis distances himself from allegory is rooted, in part, in Tolkien’s outspoken distaste for the allegorical method.

    For a stunning novel that is partly allegorical, look to PD James’ dystopian novel, The Children of Men. I’ve been reading it over and over again for years. James is a beautiful stylist, and a commanding thinker.


  4. I heard someone recommend the Binding Blade series recently on a podcast. This series claims to be a “fantasy series based in part on prophecy from the book of Isaiah.”

    I just started book 1 and it is interesting, but have not read enough yet to give a thumbs up or down.

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