Article published in:Signergy
Edited by C. Jac Conradie, Ronél Johl, Marthinus Beukes, Olga Fischer and Christina Ljungberg
[Iconicity in Language and Literature 9] 2010
► pp. 193–210
Bunyan and the physiognomy of the Wor(l)d
In the “Apology” that prefaces The Pilgrim’s Progress, Bunyan defended himself against those who criticized him, on religious grounds, for the use of lively fictions by pointing out that the Bible itself is full of figurative elements. This is more than just a defence, however, for the Bible, to Bunyan, is actually a manual for reading the world figuratively. There is an iconic relationship between the Book of Books and the Book of Nature; an object found in the world becomes a sign when it is used figuratively in the Bible. Bunyan’s own allegorical fiction serves to point up this relationship and is an example of such a combinatory reading. Christian has to read the faces, names and utterances of the people he meets on his road in order to discover their meaning. In this process, indexical signs, such as a person’s blushing, are discovered to be part of an iconic concept; a case in point is Mercy, whose face, regarded in the mirror of Scripture, makes manifest its divine likeness.
Published online: 26 May 2010