Life, Life, Eternal Life: Uncle Wiggily Meets the Pilgrim's Progress

By Angela Lorenz
Bologna, Italy: Angela Lorenz, 2006. Edition of 17.

15.5"x 13 x 3.75" closed, 9.9 x 10.5 x 2" fully extended. Accordion fold cloth book. Recycled materials. Housed in "pillow case."

Connecticut College, Newsletter: "Angela Lorenz is a gifted American book artist who has lived and worked in Bologna since 1989. Life, Life, Eternal Life: Uncle Wiggily Meets the Pilgrim’s Progress, created in an edition of 17 copies in 2006, is an elaborate ‘board game’ based on her interpretation of the famous Christian allegory Pilgrim’s Progress , first published in 1678 by John Bunyan. Although rarely read today, Pilgrim’s Progress is considered to be one of the most significant works of English literature and it has never been out of print. It was enormously popular and influential for many generations.

"Using modern and antique fabrics, buttons, pen nibs, book pages, Velcro, gum wrappers, safety pins and other recycled objects and materials, Lorenz has painstakingly fashioned a visual and allegorical representation of Bunyan’s book in which every detail is significant. The book/game comes in its own linen pillowcase because the story unfolds in a dream. The strap inside converts the pillowcase into a pilgrim’s bag that may be worn by the players. A golden crown holds the unopened accordion fold cloth book in place. Once the book is opened, the crown is worn by each player in turn and, at the end, is placed just beyond the gates of the Celestial City. It took Ms. Lorenz two years to research, design and create this book.”

Dartmouth College, Rauner Library blog: “As the title suggests, this board game is a meeting of the classic 334 year old Christian Parable, The Pilgrim's Progress, by John Bunyan and the board game Uncle Wiggily. In this game, players take turns drawing cards and moving their pieces along the board following Christian's journey from the City of Destruction, Bunyan's earth, to the Celestial City, Bunyan's heaven. Similar to Uncle Wiggily, players receive help or hindrance from characters in Bunyan’s story – from Faithful, Christian's companion and friend, to Beelzebub, a devil who guards the road to heaven and shoots arrows at anyone who tries to pass. Players must also compete in a number of tasks – from a game of musical chairs, or ‘Going to Jerusalem,’ to a game of croquet, where players must hit their playing pieces through the Wicket Gate to begin their journey, to target practice using a handmade catapult, to spinning a teetorum, a sort of Christian dreidel, to cross over the River of Death."

Angela Lorenz: "This artist’s book in seventeen copies presents itself as a cloth accordion-fold book with a cloth case that resembles a pillow. After untying the cloth bows of the case, it becomes apparent that the pillowcase transforms into a humble shoulder bag with a buckle and frayed strap terminating in an enormous metal tagged lace. Unbuckling the strap allows the viewer to put the pack on his or her back with the strap wrapped around the torso. Thus begins an artist’s foray into the world of the itinerant tinker, preacher, and writer John Bunyan, and a visual and allegorical representation of his most famous book The Pilgrim’s Progress(1678).

"Many of the materials used to make this book are old, from antique pen nibs to 19th-century textiles from my family. I even incorporated linen sheets given at the time of my wedding, and my own wedding dress and scarf. ... Accordingly, I chose to use as many recycled materials as possible. As a prisoner [Bunyan] earned money for his family by putting metal tips on laces. This explains the over-sized metal tip on the pilgrim’s purse strap, recycled from an aluminum pie tin. Bunyan was trying to create a novel, amusing version of the Bible that would appeal to the barely literate. So I avoided using text on the game board, and tried to relay his narrative with the same kinds of allegorical methods and symbols he used. There is even a piece of ink-jet printed potato starch with the recipe for Mr. Skill's Pills, conceptual food Bunyan invented which is based on the Eucharist.

"Playing the game: This work presents itself as a pillowcase, because the novel unfolds in a dream, and also because the Bible dream sequence of Jacob, who lays his head on a stone for a pillow and dreams, is used by Bunyan in his novel. Untie the pillowcase and you may extract the book. You may also take out the strap inside to view the case in its pilgrim’s bag format. In order to open the book you must remove the crown wrapped around it. You may undo the safety pin to make this easier. When the book is totally unfolded, the crown may be placed at the end, just beyond the golden gates of the celestial city, resting on a carded wool cloud. The safety pin also makes the crown adjustable, as each player that finishes the pilgrimage from the City of Destruction to the Celestial City is entitled to wear the crown in turn. The title on the front cover is a pocket – inside is a "cheat sheet" that will help you play the game without reading the three pamphlets (City of Destruction Instructions, House Beautiful, and Vanity Fair) included on the game board. It tells you what to do when you land on any of the numbered spaces, or spaces where your felted ball can’t stick to the Velcro path because something is attached there. Open the accordion-fold book and take yellow and red cards out of the 18th-century woman’s 'pocket.' Carefully remove wicket gate, slotted in on the second page above the Velcro path, unroll it, and set it up so that the words read 'wicket-gate,' with Pope and Pagan’s cave in view. Later, you will flip it forward to turn it into the Vanity Fair stockade. ...

"The yellow and red cards, based on Uncle Wiggily, allow the players to move without throwing dice, once considered sinful due to associations with gambling. Sometimes games included an alternative to dice called a teetotum, similar to a dreidel or top. Accordingly, players must spin the teetotum when they reach the Black River of Death, representing the Jordan, to reach the gates of the Celestial City. Bunyan peppers his narrative with amusing, somewhat childish, rhyming verse throughout the novel. The language is not that dissimilar to the rhyming yellow Uncle Wiggily cards, nor are common themes of helping others along, giving them treats to eat, singing, and doing good deeds in general. Thus, the Uncle Wiggily text often remains unaltered with Bunyan’s characters inserted. When the yellow cards instruct the player to take a red card, it will be helpful to use the recycled optical device, or ink-bottle loupe, representing Clear Hill, to read the tiny text. In the book, the shepherds let Christian use a scientific novelty, a 'perspective-glass,' to view the Celestial City from atop Clear Hill in the Delectable Mountains …"