Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Bunyan Metamorphosized

An open book showing printed text and two illustrations of a pilgrim.John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim's Progress first appeared in 1678 but remained enormously popular for hundreds of years. In the 19th century it was staple stock for New England printers. Our many unpretentious volumes, often in tatters and occasionally colored by an enthusiastic youth, physically manifest the story's role in the moral education of the country’s youth.

An illustrated page from a Cantonese edition.
As you might expect, we have dozens of different editions of the book, but two favorites are adaptations designed to reach wider audiences. "Metamorphosis" editions for children, like this one from Hartford, Connecticut, used folding flaps to reveal the Pilgrim’s progress. Much rarer, is a copy translated into Cantonese for missionary use. Not only is the text translated, but the characters are as well: the pilgrim becomes Chinese in costume and setting.

To see  Bunyan's Pilgrims Progress, "exhibited in a metamorphosis" ask for 1926 B86b 1821; the Cantonese Tian lu li cheng is available by requesting Rare PR3330 A738 1871.

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