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The Imitation of Christ (Vintage Spiritual Classics) Paperback – March 24, 1998

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Amazon.com Review

The Thomas à Kempis fan club includes St. Ignatius, Thomas Merton, Thomas More, and even Agatha Christie's Miss Marple. (She reads a chapter of The Imitation of Christ every night before sleep.) Imitation has exerted immense influence on Christian worship, ethics, and church structure, because it gives specific yet broad-minded guidance about the central task of Christian life--learning to live like Jesus. Better to read this book a little here and there, now and then, than to try gobbling it cover to cover. Imitation is no triumph of orderly thinking, but it's a great monument and incentive to deep living. --Michael Joseph Gross

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: Latin
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Rev Sub edition (March 24, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375700188
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375700187
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 7.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (628 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #340,818 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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208 of 215 people found the following review helpful By Mark Blackburn on March 13, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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.
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133 of 136 people found the following review helpful By Mark Blackburn on January 10, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"Want to know the best advice I ever heard?" asked Larry King, in an interview published today in Canada's National Post newspaper: "I never learned ANYTHING while I was talking." 50 years experience at the interviewer's microphone and Larry's best advice comes down to one word. "Listen!"

Coincidentally (or maybe not!) I picked up this just-received book, sent to me by a dear friend who recalled my reviewing an earlier published edition of this same "Ronald Knox translation." And it literally fell open to these words,

"By all means ask questions, but LISTEN to what holy writers have to tell you . . . often enough, (when we hear) Holy Scripture, we are distracted by mere curiosity; we want to seize upon some point and argue about it, when we ought to (listen) and move on."

I flipped open "The Imitation" just now and my eyes (lately fixated on my newest pride and joy were these: (p 32 under the heading, "ABOUT SELF-CONFIDENCE, AND HOW TO GET RID OF SELF-CONCEIT")

"It is nonsense to depend for your happiness on created things (and) why all this self-importance? Do not boast of riches, if you happen to possess them . . . nor about the important friends you have; boast rather of God's friendship.

"Do not give yourself airs, if you have physical strength or beauty; it only takes a spell of illness to waste the one, or mar the other. Do not be self-satisfied about your own skill or cleverness; God is hard to satisfy, and it is from him that they come, all these gifts of nature.

"He reads our thoughts, and will only think the worse of you, if you think yourself better than other people.
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154 of 163 people found the following review helpful By Adam C. Roberts on October 24, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As a pastor I see so many people who are miserable. They are depressed, filled with worry and have so little joy in their lives. This book speaks specifically to those problems.
In a nutshell this book says that we are miserable because we are trying to find joy in other people and in other things and everything out there will fail us and let us down. The only thing that provides true happiness, peace and contentment is God. The Imitation of Christ goes through exercises on how we can detach ourselves from worldly things to focus on God. Once we are focused solely on God and have the faith that God will provide everything we need, then we can really enjoy the world around us. Enjoy it because once we receive true happiness from God we can see how beautiful the world is and enjoy it as the gift God created it to be, instead of something that we grab onto in the hopes that it will provide us our happiness and security.
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64 of 66 people found the following review helpful By LJH on June 11, 2011
Format: Leather Bound
For hundreds of years in the Church many people would carry 2 books with them; The Holy Bible and The Imitation of Christ. It is one of the greatest Catholic classics and fortunately more and more people are "rediscovering" it.

Naturally, with a spiritual classic, you want it as close to the original translation as possible. Unfortunately this translation by Clare Fitzpatrick falls very short. When you offer too many of your own edits to a work that fantastic as is, it starts to sound like a different book. It loses it's essence.

The most common English translation comes from Rev. Richard Challoner, translated in 1893....there's a reason this edition of The Imitation has been around for so long. It is simply the best. To illustrate my point that the translation of the Catholic Book Publishing edition is weak, I will simply quote the first paragraph of both translations.

The 1893 translation by Rev Challoner:
"'He that followeth me, walketh not in darkness,' saith Our Lord. (John 8:12). These are the words of Christ, by which we are admonished, that we must imitate His life and manners, if we would be truly enlightened, and delivered from all blindness of heart."

Now the edition being reviewed, edited by Clare L. Fitzpatrick:
"'No one who follows Me will ever walk in darkness (Jn 8:12).' These words of our Lord counsel all to walk in His footsteps. If you want to see clearly and avoid blindness of heart, it is His virtues you must imitate. Make it your aim to meditate on the life of Jesus Christ."

I hope anyone reading this can see that this translation seems watered down compared to the older translation. And honestly, I have NO idea what Bible translation that is - is the editor translating the Bible her own way, too?
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