Definitions

Bunyan

Bunyan

[buhn-yuhn]
Bunyan, John, 1628-88, English author, b. Elstow, Bedfordshire. After a brief period at the village free school, Bunyan learned the tinker's trade, which he followed intermittently throughout his life. Joining the parliamentary army in 1644, he served until 1647. The reading of several pious books and a constant study of the Bible intensified Bunyan's religious beliefs, and in 1653 he began acting as lay preacher for a congregation of Baptists in Bedford. In this capacity he came into conflict with the Quakers led by George Fox and turned to writing in defense of his beliefs. In 1660 agents of the restored monarchy arrested him for unlicensed preaching, and he remained in prison for the next 12 years. During this period Bunyan wrote nine books, the most famous of which is Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners (1666), a fervent spiritual autobiography. Soon after his release in 1672 he was reimprisoned briefly and wrote the first part of his masterpiece The Pilgrim's Progress from This World to That Which Is to Come, published in 1678. A second part appeared in 1684. By the time Bunyan was released from his second imprisonment, he had become a hero to the members of his sect, and he continued preaching and writing until his death. The principal works of these later years are The Life and Death of Mr. Badman (1680) and The Holy War (1682). Pilgrim's Progress is an allegory recounting Christian's journey from the City of Destruction to the Celestial City; the second part describes the manner in which Christian's wife, Christiana, makes the same pilgrimage. Remarkable for its simple, biblical style and its vivid presentation of character and incident, Pilgrim's Progress is considered one of the world's great works of literature. Bunyan's continued popularity rests on the spiritual fervor that permeates his works and on the compelling style in which they are written. His prose unites the eloquence of the Bible with the vigorous realism of common speech.

See biography by O. E. Winslow (1961); studies by H. A. Talon (1951), W. Y. Tindall (1934, repr. 1964), D. E. Smith (1966), R. Sharrock (rev. ed. 1968), V. Newey, ed. (1980), and E. B. Batson (1984).

Bunyan, Paul, legendary American lumberjack. He was the hero of a series of "tall tales" popular through the timber country from Michigan westward. Bunyan was known for his fantastic strength and gigantic size. He is said to have ruled his gargantuan lumber camp between the winter of the blue snow and the spring that came up from China. His prized possession was Babe the Blue Ox, the distance between whose horns measured 42 ax handles and a plug of tobacco. In southern lumber camps a similar legendary figure is known as Tony Beaver.

See collections of legends by L. Untermeyer (1945) and H. W. Felton (1947); study of the legend by D. G. Hoffman (1952, repr. 1966) and N. Wartik (1989).

Legendary giant lumberjack of the U.S. frontier. A symbol of strength and vitality, he is accompanied by a giant blue ox, Babe. He was credited with creating Puget Sound, digging the Grand Canyon, and building the Black Hills, and was known for his prodigious appetite, eating hotcakes off a griddle so large it was greased by men using sides of bacon as skates. Tales of his exploits probably originated in lumber camps, and were first published by James MacGillivray in “The Round River Drive” (1910), which soon led to a national myth.

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John Bunyan, pencil drawing on vellum by Robert White; in the British Museum, London.

(born November 1628, Elstow, Bedfordshire, Eng.—died Aug. 31, 1688, London) English minister and author. Bunyan encountered the seething religious life of various left-wing sects while serving in Oliver Cromwell's army in the English Civil Wars. He underwent a period of spiritual crisis, converted to Puritanism, and became a preacher. After the Restoration, he was jailed as a Nonconformist for 12 years, during which he wrote his spiritual autobiography, Grace Abounding (1666). He is best known for The Pilgrim's Progress (1678–84), a religious allegory expressing the Puritan religious outlook. A symbolic vision of the character Christian's pilgrimage through life, it was at one time second only to the Bible in popularity among ordinary readers. Despite his ministerial responsibilities, he published numerous works in his last 10 years.

Learn more about Bunyan, John with a free trial on Britannica.com.

Legendary giant lumberjack of the U.S. frontier. A symbol of strength and vitality, he is accompanied by a giant blue ox, Babe. He was credited with creating Puget Sound, digging the Grand Canyon, and building the Black Hills, and was known for his prodigious appetite, eating hotcakes off a griddle so large it was greased by men using sides of bacon as skates. Tales of his exploits probably originated in lumber camps, and were first published by James MacGillivray in “The Round River Drive” (1910), which soon led to a national myth.

Learn more about Bunyan, Paul with a free trial on Britannica.com.

John Bunyan, pencil drawing on vellum by Robert White; in the British Museum, London.

(born November 1628, Elstow, Bedfordshire, Eng.—died Aug. 31, 1688, London) English minister and author. Bunyan encountered the seething religious life of various left-wing sects while serving in Oliver Cromwell's army in the English Civil Wars. He underwent a period of spiritual crisis, converted to Puritanism, and became a preacher. After the Restoration, he was jailed as a Nonconformist for 12 years, during which he wrote his spiritual autobiography, Grace Abounding (1666). He is best known for The Pilgrim's Progress (1678–84), a religious allegory expressing the Puritan religious outlook. A symbolic vision of the character Christian's pilgrimage through life, it was at one time second only to the Bible in popularity among ordinary readers. Despite his ministerial responsibilities, he published numerous works in his last 10 years.

Learn more about Bunyan, John with a free trial on Britannica.com.

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