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date: 05 December 2020

Abstract and Keywords

In a 1945 letter to the British Medical Journal, D. W. Winnicott protests unethical impositions upon mental patients in which surgeons are ‘cutting brains about’. He remarks, ‘what happens if these physical therapy methods spread to the treatment of criminals? What guarantee have we that a Bunyan in prison will be allowed to keep his brain intact and his imagination free?’ Bunyan, whose resistance to the repressive authorities of his day fostered his genius, in fact flourished in prison, keeping his brain intact, his imagination free. During his long confinement, the prison walls become the scene of his dream of The Pilgrim’s Progress (1678). Drawing upon psychoanalytic theories of guilt, punishment, and creativity, this chapter offers the case of Bunyan as a Nietzschean ‘pale criminal’ whose lonely confinement quells his conscience and consolidates his identity as pastor, poet, and pilgrim.

Keywords: The Pilgrim’s Progress, D. W. Winnicott, creativity, prison, conscience, imagination, punishment

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