Religio Medici and Hydriotaphia, Or Urne-Buriall

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New York Review of Books, 2012 - Philosophy - 170 pages
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"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

Sir Thomas Browne is one of the supreme stylists of the English language: a coiner of words and spinner of phrases of a near Shakespearean fecundity; the wielder of a weird and wonderful erudition; an inquiring spirit in the mold of Montaigne. Browne was an inspiration to Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Thomas De Quincy, as well as to W.G. Sebald, and his unique voice is both quirky and sonorous, an echo chamber that is full of enchantment. This new edition of Browne's two most enduring and beloved works, Religio Medici, in which he weighs and ponders the relation between his medical profession

and his profession of the Christian faith, and Urne-Buriall, an exquisite meditation on mortality, has been put together by the distinguished Renaissance Scholar and bestselling author of Will in the World, Stephen Greenblatt, and Ramie Targoff.

It includes an extensive introduction and annotations that will help readers find their way into the extraordinary world of Sir Thomas Browne.

 

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I found myself wandering down a rather unexpected reading rabbit hole: I finished Jill Lepore's Book of Ages (a biography of Ben Franklin's sister Jane), and that led me to Virginia Woolf's Orlando ... Read full review

Contents

To the Reader
3
The Second Part sections115
65
To My Worthy and Honoured Friend 9 3
93
Glossary of Names and Places
143
Copyright

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About the author (2012)

Sir Thomas Browne (1605-1682) was the son of a prosperous London merchant who died while his son was still young. Browne attended Winchester College and Oxford, then spent several years studying medicine at Montpellier, Padua, and Leiden, before receiving his MD in 1633. In 1637 he settled in Norwich where he practiced medicine and lived for the rest of his life. Religio Medici was first published in 1642, without the author's consent; a year later he approved a new printing (with some of the controversial material removed), and the book became a best seller, subsequently translated into several European languages (and placed on the Papal Index). Browne's eccentric encyclopedia, Pseudodoxia Epidemica, was first published in 1646 and went through six editions. His last work to be published in his lifetime, Urne-Buriall, appeared in 1658. Browne was knighted in 1671, when King Charles II, his queen, and his court came to Norwich.

Stephen Greenblatt is one of the founders of New Historicism, and the author of many books, including Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare and The Swerve: How the World Became Modern (winner of the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize). He is the John Cogan University Professor of the Humanities at Harvard.

Ramie Targoff is the author of Common Prayer: The Language of Public Devotion in Early Modern England; John Donne: Body and Soul; and the forthcoming Posthumous Love: Eros and the Afterlife in Renaissance England. She is the Jehuda Reinharz Director of the Mandel Center for the Humanities and a professor of English at Brandeis.

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