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Topic: Pilgrim's Progress

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Subject: Pilgrim's Progress
Date Posted: 11/9/2010 11:43 AM ET
Member Since: 8/14/2008
Posts: 3,574
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I often very much enjoy reading classics. But, just as there are some modern authors whose voice I don't snuggle up to real well, there are some classics that seem dry to me. I generally do not approve of rewritings or simplifications (esp. for children), because it strips the authors voice, which I think is an important part of the experience of any novel. (My mother strongly disagrees. She loves the 'Illistrated Classics' series)

I have never been able to read Pilgrim's Progress. Just one of those that was just too dry. On vacation last week though, we stayed at my home schooling sister two states away coming and going (to pick up and drop off her family as they joined us for vacation). I finished my book on vacation and at her house on the return trip picked up the Abecka Pilgrim's Progress simplified to third grade level. I found it an easy read - but not so easy that I finished it in one night. Anyway, it would be nicer to read it much slower - it has Bible refrences after every chapter. I liked it so much.

I planned to order it here, but like every Abecka book in the world, it is WL. I just wondered what anyone else thought of simplified classics, and anything else mentioned here, even Florida (where we went for vacation)

Date Posted: 11/9/2010 11:56 AM ET
Member Since: 4/4/2009
Posts: 9,476
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The mind that "simplifies" it is so far less than the mind that wrote it that there is little comparison between the "simplification" and the real thing.

Florida suffers from a terminal and irreversible case of people pollution. Better, though, to see all the old geezers from the North retiring there than polluting Beautiful Texas in a similar manner.

Date Posted: 11/9/2010 12:14 PM ET
Member Since: 12/27/2007
Posts: 702
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No, I don't like simplified or abridged versions of anything.  Don't get me started on mentioning a classic book, only to have my students tell me about the cartoon version.  Thankfully, until my grandchildren do this, I'm done with all that (retired).

Having said that, I've never attempted Pilgrim's Progress but that's a good idea for me to try (the original version).

Let me go back and change one thing.  I do think that children's versions of stories from the Bible and from mythology are acceptable.  Maybe there's some other genre that I'm not thinking of, but, for the most, I'll stick to my first sentence.

Date Posted: 11/9/2010 4:19 PM ET
Member Since: 10/17/2006
Posts: 1,427
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Shhhhh, don't anyone tell Vivian about the middle and high schoolers who tried to 'get by' by reading the Classics Comics versions of Shakespeare's plays!

Date Posted: 11/9/2010 9:12 PM ET
Member Since: 12/27/2007
Posts: 702
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I know, I know.  My personal cheating was Moby Dick--assigned both in high school and college.  I honestly tried both times to read that book but ended up with Cliff's Notes (the only times that I did that).  Then, just summer before last, I made myself read that book.  Ugh!  But finally I can say that I read every book (unabridged) that I was assigned!



Last Edited on: 11/10/10 7:45 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 4/7/2011 8:41 PM ET
Member Since: 1/4/2008
Posts: 389
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I loved the original version of Pilgrim's Progress and plan to read it again someday, but if the simplified version floats your boat, go for it! It's better than missing out on a good book altogether. Who knows? Maybe later you'll be ready to tackle the original. It's partly getting used to the flow of the antiquated language, but that gets easier if you stick with it. smiley

Date Posted: 4/28/2011 9:41 AM ET
Member Since: 8/17/2009
Posts: 1,588
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As a general rule, I want nothing to do with abridged versions.  But converting Biblical and mythology stories for YOUNG children is an exception.  As a socieity, we are losing too many of the stories, and if you can get a child interested in it through a children's version, well and good.

My first experience with Pilgrim's Progress was Helen Taylor's "The Little Pilgrim's Progress", which essentially changed all the characters from adults to children and simplified the language and concepts for children, but holds to the same story line.  I was probably eight when I read it.  Loved it!  Years later I read the original, but I have to say that the children's version is still the one I best remember.

Date Posted: 4/28/2011 8:25 PM ET
Member Since: 10/17/2006
Posts: 1,427
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This has nothing to do with Pilgrim's Progress, by John Bunyan, but the mention of abridged books made me remember a goofy joke about the British publisher who assigned one of his staff to prepare "the abridged, unexpurgated, American edition" of a British book.  The editor, being new to the job, was confused and asked what the publisher meant.  "Oh, " said the gentleman, "it means you leave out all the boring bits, but be sure to include all the dirty bits."

Date Posted: 4/29/2011 3:58 PM ET
Member Since: 4/9/2008
Posts: 550
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I read Pilgrim's progress and enjoyed it- ift hat's the word. I cried through much of it as it brought to mind different experiences from my own life. I remember the language being somewhat difficult, but not too much. I read the KJV Bible, sometimes Shakepeare, Beowolf, lots of old forms of English. I have yet to get more than a few pages into The Faerie Queen. The old forms can be quite a stumbling block; at the same time, it seems many people are losing access to these great writings because they have only the most modern English in their experience.

Little Pilgrim's Progress affected me the same way as the original. It's not often you find an adapted version that stays so true to the spirit of the original. And while it's about kids, I think it's a great version for all ages.

Date Posted: 5/1/2011 10:27 AM ET
Member Since: 8/17/2009
Posts: 1,588
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Going a bit further down that tangent .... You are so right, Laura, about younger generations losing meaningful access to great writings because they experience only modern English. I was raised with KJV Bible, and I was quite surprised with how much easier Shakespeare was for me than for others in English Lit classes. I really fear for the next generation, when all THEY read is text crap! At the rate we're going, communications a couple generations from now will be a bunch of abrievations and sounds that more resemble the alleged gruntings of our supposed pre-humnan ancestors than civilized human beings.

But back to the original topic of things simpified and abridged. I recommend Rosemary Sutcliff's Black Ships Before Troy for a excellent children's version of the Iliad. I haven't read her Wanderings of Odysseus yet, but I'm sure it's an equally good.



Last Edited on: 5/1/11 10:29 AM ET - Total times edited: 3
Date Posted: 5/1/2011 6:36 PM ET
Member Since: 10/17/2006
Posts: 1,427
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It was more than a few decades ago when I read (in a book about some aspect or other of linguistics) the author's prediction that it was but a matter of time before we became "an oral culture of pure babble".   That phrase has stuck with me ever since.  I don't recall the author's name----it was Lincoln something-or-other, I think.  But I wonder if he was prophetic, or just despairing about the general level of English usage around him?

Date Posted: 5/14/2011 7:35 PM ET
Member Since: 1/9/2010
Posts: 4
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Pilgrim's Progress is difficult to get through, I admit. It moves fairly slowly, and the language is complicated for the gained storyline. That being said, I generally do not approve of simplified classics. In order to become a classic, a book needs many layers--in the story itself but also in the writing style, word choice, etc. A large portion of those layers are lost in the simplified versions, so what's the point? Children should just read books that are written for children until they're old enough to enjoy classics in all of their glory.

Date Posted: 5/17/2011 2:58 PM ET
Member Since: 8/17/2009
Posts: 1,588
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Well said.