The Imitation of Christ
by Thomas à Kempis
Paperback 236 pages
Only the Bible has been more influential as a source of Christian devotional reading than The Imitation of Christ. This meditation on the spiritual life has inspired readers from Thomas More and St. Ignatius Loyola to Thomas Merton and Pope John Paul II. Written by the Augustinian monk Thomas à Kempis between 1420 and 1427, it contains clear instructions for renouncing wordly vanities and locating eternal truths. No book has more explicitly and movingly described the Christian ideal: "My son, to the degree that you can leave yourself behind, to that degree will you be able to enter into Me." With a new Foreword by Carl Anderson, the Supreme Knight and chief executive officer of the Knights of Columbus.
I have several translations of the Imitation but I keep coming back to this one. I believe many readers will find this translation 'flows' better than the others, written as it is in a warm, gentle and accessible style by a master translator and communicator, Monsignor Ronald Knox. A convert to Catholicism who produced an acclaimed Latin-to-English translation of the Bible, Knox completed the first 30 or so chapters of the Imitation before his death in 1957. He wrote to Michael Oakley, two months before his passing: "If I die without finishing my translation, please tell my executors that you are to finish it." The younger Latin scholar did a splendid, seamless job of completing Knox's superb translation of what was--until this century--the second most widely read book in the world. What a delight that this version is once again available, almost 40 years after its first publication. If you purchase only one copy of the Imitation in your lifetime, make it this one.—M.B.