Glimpses of Glory: John Bunyan and English Dissent
Stanford University Press, 2002 - 693 páginas
This is a major reinterpretation of John Bunyan, a prolific author best known for his two allegories, The Pilgrim's Progress and The Holy War, and his spiritual autobiography, Grace Abounding. In this book, Richard L. Greaves draws on recent literature on depression to demonstrate that Bunyan suffered from this mood disorder as a young man and then used this experience to help mold his literary works. Light and darkness, joy and sadness, despair and hope became key literary motifs.
In this biography, each of Bunyan's works, including the dozen published posthumously, is analyzed in its immediate historical context. The Pilgrim's Progress, although not published until 1678, takes its rightful place as a contribution to the momentous debate over conscience between 1667 and 1673. This historical approach, as distinct from the literary one favored by nearly all of Bunyan's biographers, reveals the changes in his views over time, including his interest in the millenarian Fifth Monarchists in the 1650s, his circumspect endorsement of militant action to block the anticipated succession of James, duke of York, in the 1680s, his retreat from this position following the disclosure of the Rye House conspiracy, and his cooperation with James II's government when it offered toleration to dissenters.
Bunyan's extraordinary ability to rouse the imaginations of his readers is shown to be rooted in his intense spirituality and powerful creativity, and given emotive force by his deep sympathy for the poor and oppressed and his fierce commitment to the principle that truth must be free. Two periods in prison, one lasting more than eleven years, failed to crush his spirit. Unbroken, he emerged from confinement to continue his preaching and writing, having honed a regime of composition that served him well as a free man. No less significant was his triumph over debilitating depressive moods that left him with a keen sensitivity to the importance of light, warmth, and love. Bunyan's potent creativity enabled him to turn his experiences into a gripping spiritual autobiography and two major allegories that attest to his triumph over crippling despair and a repressive government.
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