Thomas Browne

Thomas Browne

Sir Thomas Browne (1605–1682) was an English Renaissance author and physician. His writings range from medicine, geography, philosophy, and Christian spirituality.

Urn Burial

by Thomas Browne

With a contribution by

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.…
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Browne is a cracked archangel.
—Herman Melville
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 thoughts describe.
—W. G. Sebald
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