This is the beginning of Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan:

As I walked through the wilderness of this world, I lighted on a certain place where was a den, and laid me down in that place to sleep; and as I slept, I dreamed a dream. I dreamed, and behold, I saw a man clothed with rags, standing in a certain place, with his face from his own house, a book in his hand, and a great burden upon his back. I'm referring to the story Pilgrim's Progress.

I believe it was written while he was imprisoned. My question is, did he really literally dream this dream, and write it down, or was it like he had written "in a land far far away ... ?"

Secondly, Pilgrim's Progress is just filled with Bible verses everywhere (one of the things that impresses me most about the book.) If this book was written while in prison for preaching, how did he have access to a Bible in order to cite all these verses? Or did he have them all memorized?

  • "This is not posted as a separate question since I can't justify posting 2 separate 5-sentence long questions." That doesn't matter for this site. A two part question like this would warrant being closed, but two short questions would be fine. – curiousdannii Dec 14 '14 at 11:37
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    This question appears to be off-topic because it is about literary genres, and has nothing, specifically to do with Christianity. – Flimzy Dec 15 '14 at 0:40

Part 1 I think could only be answered by speculation. Personally I would speculate it is simply creative story-telling, but that is just opinion.

For part 2; if we look at his earlier 1666 imprisonment, he is documented (see Wikipedia) as having:

two books, John Foxe's Book of Martyrs, the Bible, a violin he had made out of tin, a flute he'd made from a chair leg and a supply of pen and paper

So it seems clear that having a bible in jail (gaol) was no issue. Indeed, at this time it was compulsory to attend church (his crime was preaching without a license, as the C of E was aggressively controlling).

If anything, I would imagine a bible would be easily accessible, even in prison. Additionally, the writing was only started while in prison - it was only a 6 month imprisonment.

  • Exactly - especially at the time, imprisonment was meant as a time of pentanence and rehabilitation. As one who has worked in prisons, let me say that Bibles are very common in prison. – Affable Geek Sep 8 '12 at 15:32

The narrator in a literary work is distinct from the author.

Since Pilgrim's Progress is a work of fiction, it makes sense to believe the narrator is a literary device, not a factual retelling of an actual dream of the author.

From a subjective point of view, I can't imagine ever having a dream so coherent and detailed, and with a well-crafted plot!

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