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Urn Burial
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Hydriotaphia, or Urn Burial, is one of the pinnacles of Renaissance scholarship and without doubt one of the great essays in English literature. Beginning with observations on the recent discovery of Roman antiquities in the form of burial urns, Browne's associative mind wanders to elephant graveyards, to pre-Christian cremation ceremonies, and finally to the idea of Christian burial. Browne then explores, with a more melancholic meditation, man's struggles with mortality and the uncertainty of his fate and fame in the living world. This edition includes a magisterial discourse on Sir Thomas Browne taken from the first chapter of W. G. Sebald's The Rings of Saturn.
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About the Author

Sir Thomas Browne (1605-1682) was an English Renaissance author and physician. He wrote extensively about medicine, geography, philosophy, and Christian spirituality. W. G. Sebald was born in Germany in 1944 and died in 2001. He is the author of The Emigrants, The Rings of Saturn, Vertigo, Austerlitz, After Nature, On the Natural History of Destruction, Unrecounted and Campo Santo.

Reviews

"The iniquity of oblivion blindly scatters her poppyseed and when wretchedness falls upon us one summer's day like snow, all we wish for is to be forgotten. These are the circles Browne's thought's describe." -- W. G. Sebald, author of The Rings of Saturn "Browne is a cracked archangel." -- Herman Melville "I translated Browne into seventeenth-century Spanish and it worked very well. I love him." -- Jorge Luis Borges "Browne's is the voice of a strange preacher, of a man filled with doubts and subtleties and suddenly swept away by surprising imaginations." -- Virginia Woolf "No archaeologist ever took such care to construct such luxurious lines for his readership. Browne, on the level of language as well as inquiry, is not that strict, exacting, stereotypically staunch fusspot of science...Browne presents himself as more of an interlocutor, a foil reflecting the given light of the sun so others may feel a little less dark in their darkness." -- Greg Gerke - The Millions

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