Monday, April 20, 2015

The Pilgrim's Regress (William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.)

The Pilgrim's Progress is a Christian allegory written by John Bunyan that is considered one of the most popular works of all time and perhaps the most famous allegory of all time. In 1933, C.S. Lewis published a work called The Pilgrim's Regress. He billed it as an update version of Bunyan's work with a heavy dose of moral philosophy. In true Lewis fashion, he beats you over the head with his allegory. This is demonstrated by such characters as Mr. Enlightenment, Mr. Neo-Classical, and, Mr. Humanist. This complaint aside, it really is a well-written book that is inundated with references. You could spend hours and hours poring over the book trying to uncover all the references or you could buy the recently released an Annotated Edition of The Pilgrim's Regress.

The Annotated Edition of The Pilgrim's Regress starts with a nice introduction, which provides both biographical and cultural context for this work. Many people don't realize that this was the first book Lewis wrote after his conversion to Christianity, and it was also his first work of fiction. The references in this edition include language translations (like Latin); allusions to other authors and their works; and even references to some of Lewis' later works, like Mere Christianity and The Chronicles of Narnia. The part most interesting to me was the afterword which C.S. Lewis wrote ten years after the book's publication. In this afterword, Lewis points out what he thought were the flaws and shortcomings in the book. Why he didn't re-write it, I'm not sure, but you have to admire his honest criticism of his own work.

Overall, I would recommend this book to true C.S. Lewis fans. This book isn't exactly his most popular work, and it definitely isn't his most easily understood work. If you enjoy reading and owning Lewis' books though, this is the edition of The Pilgrim's Regress that you want on your shelf. In fact, I think it looks quite nice next to my Annotated Edition of The Screwtape Letters, by a different publisher. It is my hope more publishers continue to release nice, hardcover, annotated editions of his work. Until that time, be sure to check out Eerdmans' selection of recently published Lewis books, like God in the Dock and Letters to an American Lady. They are "just" plain editions, but the cover art matches up with this book, a small effort in detail for which I always applaud publishers for making.

This book was provided to me for free by William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. in exchange for an honest review. If you found this review helpful. please click here and hit Yes!