Considered one of the most important theological works of the 17th century, The Pilgrim’s Progress was first printed on February 18th, 1678. The 432-page book was written by John Bunyan, a puritan preacher who first began work on the novel during his stay in a Bedfordshire county prison. He earned this sentence due to his violation of the Conventicle Act, which forbade any religious gatherings of more than 5 outside of established Church of England grounds.
The Christian allegory centered around a protagonist aptly named “Christian,” who became burdened by the weight of his sins after reading the Bible. To relieve himself of this burden, he decides to leave the City of Destruction and journey onward to the Celestial City. These cities represent this world and the next, respectively. On his journey, he is tempted by numerous impediments and worldly pleasures. However, through perseverance and the help of good-hearted men and women he meets along the way, he marches ever onward to his promised salvation, casting off his burden bit by bit with every step.
Considered a masterpiece by literary scholars, the book inspired the work of a great number of important literary figures, including Mark Twain and C. S. Lewis. Translated into over 200 languages and never having been out of print, the book has remained popular for over 300 years. And regardless of religious affiliation, it remains a wonderful way to peer into the mind and perhaps the soul of a man willing to face persecution for what he believed was right and allows us all a window into the past.