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PREFACE

CONSIDERING the wide fame of Thomas à Kempis as the reputed author of “The Imitation of Christ” it is surprising that no English translation of the “Lives of Gerard Groote and his followers” has been published hitherto. (The Brotherhood of the Common Life to which à Kempis belonged owed its foundation to Groote and his pupil Florentius, and since that Brotherhood is referred to by the author himself as “The New Devotion,” and Groote is called “Nostrae devotionis fundator,” I have thought myself justified in giving to this translation the title which it bears, although the editio princeps gives no general title to the Lives.

The version here presented does not claim to be savagely literal, but I hope that I have not misrepresented the author in any material point, and that the translation faithfully renders the meaning of the original Latin. In any case I have xnot intentionally distorted or omitted a single phrase.

An introductory chapter has been added, giving a brief and imperfect résumé of the conditions under which Groote and his followers lived, together with certain notes dealing with matters to which the text refers.

My cordial thanks are due to several friends who have assisted me, especially to the Rev. S. H. Gem, for many valuable suggestions and references, and to M. P. S. Allen for similar help. I am happy in having this opportunity of expressing my gratitude to the Very Reverend Leo Almond, Prior of Downside Abbey, who has been good enough to read my manuscript and to give me much information on technical points.

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