By Roger Pooley
‘whereas Christian goes on a pilgrimage, Christiana goes on a walking-tour’
This quotation was posted on Facebook by Jameela Lares, with a plea to get the source of it to her before she taught The Pilgrim’s Progress that morning. I’m sorry that it’s taken me rather longer than that, other than a vague memory, but I thought other members of the Society might like to know the results.
It comes from ‘The Identity of the Pseudo-Bunyan’ in Ronald Knox, Essays in Satire (London, 1928: Sheed & Ward), on p.206. The essay is one of a number of satires on biblical source criticism and other ‘modern’ theological ideas of the time – the volume also contains a poem in the manner of Dryden, ‘Absolute and Abitofhell’. The essay itself invents a number of Bunyanesque pseudo-scholars: among them Professor Sack-the-lot, Mr Tithe-mint, and my personal favourite, Canon Obvious, the author of Dear Old Bunyan. The quotation in question is actually ascribed to Mr Muck-rake’s On the Trail of the Pilgrims, as the climax to a whole series of inconsistencies that he has pointed out between Parts One and Two.
The conclusion, after a discussion of the differences between the two parts which (ironies aside) is still worth attending to, is too magnificent not to quote at length. He draws attention to Great-heart’s ‘panegyric upon women’ where:
‘he traces the influence of women in the Gospels with the avowed object of showing that they were ahead of the other sex from end to end of the story. It is my own belief, though one which I offer with all due reserve to the public, that this is the true reading of the problem. The fortunes of Christiana, strange as it may seem, were foisted upon the world by a woman, jealous for the credit of her own sex, and an Anglican, equally jealous for the reputation of a much-maligned and recently persecuted Church.’ (p.219)