Friday, August 31, 2012
Thomas Kempis (1380–1471), as Fr. John-Julian prefers to call him, was a medieval monk who founded several monasteries in Europe and wrote 31 books, treatises and articles, as well as several biographies.
Fr. John-Julian’s introduction to this 456-page paperback is very informative as he describes how Kempis’s Imitation began and grew. He notes that as early as 1410—1415 pieces and copies of the writings of various monks, began to come together and were shared from one monastery to another. There were many years of controversy over who wrote which part of The Imitation, but by 1441, the first verified autograph manuscript, was signed as "by the hand of Thomas Kempis," a monk of Mount St. Agnes monastery near Zwolle in the Netherlands..
Fr. John-Julian’s translation is based on the first printed edition (1471) and he compared it with the 1441 edition but made few corrections. On each left-hand page of each chapter, he provides interesting comments and biblical references, which I found very helpful to have beside the poetic text on the right-hand page. He gives detailed endnotes on each chapter and a full bibliography, as well as a time line of the medieval church in Europe, from 1260–1471. He also includes a page on how "Notable Readers of The Imitation" responded to it.