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Ch 7: AN APPROACH TO THE DELECTABLE MOUNTAINS 
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Post Ch 7: AN APPROACH TO THE DELECTABLE MOUNTAINS
Chapter 7: AN APPROACH TO THE DELECTABLE MOUNTAINS

Please use this thread to discuss chapter 7



Thu Mar 26, 2009 8:02 am
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Chapter 7 An Approach to the Delectable Mountains

Malachi 4:5 (King James Version)
“Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD:”

Cummings wrote a letter to his German translators about the epigraph that starts the chapter. He says:

I supposed "Sunday is a dreadful day" . . . to be lifted from Ezra Pound's immortal parody of the English poet [A. E.] Houseman;but,finding that the original runs
"London is a woeful place,
Shropshire is much pleasanter
Then let us smile a little space
Upon fond nature's morbid grace.
                 Oh,Woe,woe,woe,etcetera . . ."
realize that I parodied my old friend the parodist  (Letters 234)

As for the title of the chapter – “An Approach to the Delectable Mountains”
“Christian comes upon them after escaping from "Doubting Castle, the owner whereof was Giant Despair" (105). From their tops, the pilgrim can see those who have fallen in error, those who wander forever in error, and the hypocrites burning in hell. He can also see the Celestial City, goal of his pilgrimage. Shepherds named "Knowledge, Experience, Watchful, and Sincere" (111) live in these mountains.”

A really useful site: http://www.gvsu.edu/english/cummings/Eroompen.htm

So between these things, we now know how to read the characterizations.


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Mon Apr 20, 2009 4:54 pm
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Chapter 7 part 2

So the delectable mountains are the Wanderer, the Zulu, and Surplice.

The following is from http://www.gvsu.edu/english/cummings/Olsen1.html

The Wanderer (a gypsy) is an archetypal figure whose exterior presence communicates his spiritual qualities. C. focuses on his face as a mirror of his inner state, "finely formed and almost fluent," which "contained a beauty and dignity which, as I first saw it, annihilated the surrounding tumult without an effort" (73). The Wanderer, by his sheer existence, breaks down the barriers between self and the exterior.
The Zulu, already mentioned, also has "a face at once fluent and angular, expressionless and sensitive" (183). More than the Wanderer, the Zulu encompasses the dilemma of describing the unknowable. "He could not, of course, write any language whatever...the secret of his means of complete and unutterable communication lay in that very essence which I have only defined as an IS" (173-174). The Zulu imparts meaning through a silent emission, a passively active communication of human essence.
Surplice and Jean Le Negre express themselves through inarticulate sounds and represent the reverse of the Wanderer and the Zulu's passivity. They actively pursue dramatic roles as the [end page 84] fool and the clown respectively, in order to disguise their true natures. Instead of silent radiation, both characters emit their unknowable essence through pure sound.
The personality of Jean Le Negre, the epitome of this group of characters, is a necessary expression of his essential self, "the bright child of [his] mind" (214). Jean's dramatic dialogues (in French) demand all of Cummings' stylistic flexibility: "il est Fort! [strong] M'sieu Jean,c'est un GEANT" (210). Jean fills the entire space of the room (and the sentence) with his presence. Like his body, Jean's voice inspires C. through its physicality: "His use of language was sometimes exalted fibbing, sometimes the purely picturesque. He courted above all the sounds of words, more or less disdaining their meaning" (199). In Cummings' restructuring of reality, Jean represents complete freedom--pure sound as an expression of self not restricted by any social or linguistic system.
Jean forms the pinnacle of C.'s spiritual ascent, as he transcends the limitations of words as a restrictive system. In the same manner, Cummings rejects preconceived meanings, as present in the rules of grammar and punctuation, genre forms (autobiography, fiction, or documentary), given names, the definition of words--any form which encases human communication. Cummings reshapes the nature of his prose into a flexible tool for the artistic expression of human divinity. Cummings' conceptualization of linguistic concerns corresponds to Saussure's idea of difference. As Jameson writes, "content is everything, and it is the feeling of the native speaker which remains in the last resort the test of the presence or absence of distinctive features" (17). Although Jameson refers simply to distinctions between linguistic signs, Cummings points to the differences between nationalities and ideologies, and the need to express the evasive but primary spiritual component of humanity.


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Mon Apr 20, 2009 5:21 pm
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Here is the online text of Bunyan's book. http://www.classicallibrary.org/bunyan/pilgrim/index.htm The 8th stage is about the delectable mountains.


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Wed Apr 22, 2009 8:18 pm
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Here's a Sparks Notes summary of the importance of the Delectable Mountians to Christian in Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress.

Christian and Hopeful's experiences at the Delectable Mountains emphasize the importance of reflection. When Christian and Hopeful gaze out at the other pilgrims wandering on Giant Despair's lands, they recall one of their own experiences from the outside and see how it is lived by other pilgrims. By looking back on their previous experience, Christian and Hopeful realize how far they have traveled and just how close they are to the Celestial City. Christian also does not long for his previous life in the City of Destruction when he watches the pilgrims, but he sees how he has progressed since leaving and feels no regret. No longer does Christian just wander hoping he'll reach the Celestial City. When Christian reaches the Delectable Mountains, he is firmly planted in Christ's domain and has physical confirmation of his progress.

Ignorance's appearance emphasizes the idea that spiritual progress requires more than simply living a good life and having a natural faith in God. Progress can only be made when movement is combined with knowledge and understanding. Ignorance is a likeable pilgrim. He is friendly to his fellow pilgrims, he loves and fears God as he should, and his good intentions cannot be doubted. But Ignorance is only walking toward salvation, not progressing toward it. He cannot make progress like Christian because he has not received revelation, nor does he believe in its value or express any interest in hearing about it. He thinks the received word of God is nonsense, and so his travel is only in the body, not in the mind or soul.

The division between the Eighth and Ninth Stages, in which the narrator's dream is interrupted, demonstrates the visionary nature of the story. This happens at a few moments in The Pilgrim's Progress. In terms of mere storytelling alone, such interruptions seem pointless and unnecessary. After all, the narrator does nothing when he wakes up but immediately go back to sleep and start to dream again, picking up at the exact point where he left off before. The reader might question why the narrator told the reader he woke up. But from another angle the dream interruptions are important. They reinforce the reader's awareness that none of the story is real in any worldly sense. Christian is not an actual physical human but a figment of a dreamer's imagination. By insisting on the dreamy or visionary aspect of his story, Bunyan reminds the reader that his story consists of spiritual material.

The importance of storytelling as a spiritual aid is also communicated by Christian's story about Little-Faith. The content of that tale is not particularly new because it reinforces that a pilgrim may lose worldly comfort but still possess the jewel of faith that cannot be lost. This point has been made before in the book when Christian loses his certificate and then recovers it. The real interest in Christian's tale lies in the fact that Christian himself becomes a storyteller like the narrator. Telling that tale, as the narrator of The Pilgrim's Progress tells his own tale, Christian is able to engage his audience, who asks questions and learns. Moreover, Christian tells a story about another pilgrim, so his storytelling is in some way about his own pilgrimage, just as Bunyan the Christian tells a tale about a man named Christian.

The spiritual value of vision is reinforced by the most incredible vision yet to occur in The Pilgrim's Progress: Christian and Hopeful's glimpse of the Celestial City through the shepherds' telescope. Here again, words and vision go hand-in-hand. The glorious destination that has been talked of throughout the book is finally seen. This visualizing of words is what Bunyan achieved in his writing: he has taken the word of God and tried to make it a real visionary experience, so that a believer could look through the lens of his story and see the Celestial City. But however much Bunyan may aid the viewer, in the end the vision is up to each person to glimpse. The detail of Christian's hands trembling so much that he can hardly see the city reinforces the notion that the seeker controls his or her own vision.


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Wed Apr 22, 2009 8:28 pm
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