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date: 10 December 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter considers the reception, influence, and adaptation of Bunyan in the Victorian period, especially The Pilgrim’s Progress (1678; 1684) and Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners (1666). Though Bunyan’s allegory remained for many a doctrinal work, it developed varied significance and appeal within an increasingly secular culture. Attention is paid to responses in non-fictional prose and to such relevant contexts as the rise of working-class radicalism, but the focus rests on novels by Charles Dickens, George Eliot, William Hale White (‘Mark Rutherford’), and Thomas Hardy, which have a direct connection with Bunyan as well as using the motif of the pilgrimage or soul journey. Paradoxically, Bunyan played an important role in the imagination and techniques of writers who lost their faith or turned predominantly to humanist beliefs. For these, as for others, he endured as a major presence, a compelling point of attraction, and a source of creative stimulus.

Keywords: The Pilgrim’s Progress, Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners, radicalism, novels, Charles Dickens, George Eliot, William Hale White (‘Mark Rutherford’), Thomas Hardy

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