Up until a few weeks ago, I had thought that I had covered the literature angle of the arts with the two novels, Atlas Shrugged and Brideshead Revisited (the first novel regarding happiness in this life and the second novel regarding happiness in the next life), but I was wrong. I have a third must-read companion book to recommend: The Pilgrim’s Progress, John Bunyan.
The reason for the addition of this third book is that is entails finding happiness in this life as well as the next life; a feat not easily accomplished in the arts.
The Pilgrim’s Progress, first published in 1678, with a second part added in 1684, has never been out of print. No other work in English, excluding the Bible, has been so widely read over such a long period of time. It is considered the first novel written in English. It ranks Number One of the 100 best Novels written in English according to The Guardian. Mark Twain thought enough of the novel to write in his own novel, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, the following, “There was some books too … One was ‘Pilgrim’s Progress’, about a man that left his family it didn’t say why. I read considerable in it now and then. The statements was interesting, but tough.”
The main characters, Christian, his wife Christiana and their children, travel the road beginning from the “good life” (the third of seven segments of the road to happiness) to reach happiness not only in this life but the next life as well. The distractions, temptations, and adversities encountered along the pilgrimage as well as the virtues and graces needed to overcome them are well illustrated in this book. It is because of this exhaustive depiction of pilgrims travelling the two roads to happiness, one road seen as a surpassing perfection of the other, that this great work of early English literature is included as the third companion book.
More to come about this great book!