Yet today, few people know the Imitation and those who do more often than not think it hopelessly out of date, a pre-Vatican II relic, full of contempt for the world and self-loathing. It is a curious state of affairs, and one that reveals more about a contemporary audience's response to the book than it does about the book itself. When a contemporary reader encounters a line such as "this is the highest wisdom: through contempt of the world to aspire to the kingdom of heaven," his response is a very different one from that of a fifteenth - or nineteenth-century reader. For an "informed response" (as Stanley Fish would say) to the contemptus mundi theme, the reader must draw deeply on a vast complex of literary, linguistic, historical, and theological knowledge.
Creasy's translation of the Imitation strives to recreate a text that provides an analogous experience to that of the fifteenth-century reader. Relying heavily on reader-response theory, he incorporates an "informed reader's" response into the text itself. Where possible, the text echoes both the deep structure and the surface structure of the Latin-even to the point ofreplicating sentence structures and rhetorical devices while avoiding any distortion of the reader's experience. Although the language and style of his translation has been crafted for modern readers, the fervor and power of the original text have not been lost. Dr. Creasy's work on the Imitation of Christ has become the standard translation of this spiritual classic, bringing it to life for a new generation of readers.