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Reading the Road, from Shakespeare's Crossways to Bunyan's Highways$
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Lisa Hopkins and Bill Angus

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781474454117

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474454117.001.0001

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‘The King’s Highway’: Reading England’s Road in The Pilgrim’s Progress, Part I

‘The King’s Highway’: Reading England’s Road in The Pilgrim’s Progress, Part I

Chapter:
(p.238) Chapter 13 ‘The King’s Highway’: Reading England’s Road in The Pilgrim’s Progress, Part I
Source:
Reading the Road, from Shakespeare's Crossways to Bunyan's Highways
Author(s):

Martha Lynn Russell

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9781474454117.003.0014

Martha Lynn Russell’s chapter focuses on another religious road of the early modern period: John Bunyan’s road to the Celestial City in The Pilgrim’s ProgressPart I. Instead of viewing this road as merely allegorical, this chapter argues that Bunyan’s road, from the City of Destruction to the Celestial City, also follows a literal journey - of the topography and spatial grammars of England’s Great North Road. Russell considers three cultural conceptions of early modern road infrastructure – transportation, drainage, and fairs – alongside Bunyan’s political and Anabaptist theology and contemporary government roads policy. The Pilgrim’s Progress directly rejects tolls at gates, and the unfixable Slough of Despond reflects England’s unfixable wetlands and correlates there with Anabaptist understandings of salvation and doubt. Furthermore, Vanity Fair parodies fairs of the time to demonstrate the belief that Christians must experience alienation before entering the Celestial City. Contextualising it alongside roads, drainage, and fair systems is crucial to this chapter’s understanding of Bunyan’s unique religious and political vision.

Keywords:   Bunyan, Pilgrim, infrastructure, transportation, drainage, fairs

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