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From Progress to Regress: A Pilgrimage Through the Fictional Conversion Narratives of John Bunyan and C.S. Lewis
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While imprisoned as a nonconformist Baptist in 1675, John Bunyan “fell suddenly into allegory” as he wrote The Pilgrim’s Progress. In 1932, while staying in Belfast, C.S. Lewis wrote The Pilgrim’s Regress in a hasty two-week period, shortly after his conversion to Christianity. The novels share similar structure, but make unique arguments about cultural and philosophical issues of their time. In this paper, I present the historical and cartographic context to both allegorical works. Specifically, I explore the significance of progress and regress. Our intellectual journey, or progress, will start with an analysis of Bunyan and Lewis’s biographical and personal connection to the fictional narratives. How did their personal life-stories illuminate the fictional conversions of Christian and John? At our second stop, I will analyze the visual evolution of the stories, with specific emphasis on the cartographic portrayals of the authors’ fictive worlds. What can we learn from the design and complexities of the fictive worlds? To conclude, I will examine the rhetorical power of allegorical conversion narratives. How do these stories move readers to action? By the end of our journey you will reach a greater understanding of progress and regress as a method of both philosophical and physical movement. Specifically, I am interested in three tiers of movement: the authors’ movement toward faith, the characters’ movement in their respective fictive worlds, and the reader’s movement (through the rhetorical power of allegorical conversion narratives).
Brown, Derek P (2017). From Progress to Regress: A Pilgrimage Through the Fictional Conversion Narratives of John Bunyan and C.S. Lewis. Master's thesis, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from