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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-Burial, 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.
“The iniquity of oblivion blindly scatters her poppy seed 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, author of The Rings of Saturn
“Sir Thomas Browne, the wonderful 17th century baroque prose stylist and Borgesian speculative essayist whose works (such as Urne-Burial and Religio Medici) are inimitable idiosyncratic classics on the order of the Anatomy of Melancholy and Tristram Shandy.” –New York Observer
“How does one recommend to the modern reader a writer whose two masterpieces are a rambling mediation about faith and human variety, and a study of burial customs? Yet Browne is one of the greatest of our prose writers, religious and at the same time intensely rational, and he observed the details of human life like the physician he was.” –The Observer (London)
“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
“Few people love the writings of Sir Thomas Browne, but those who do are the salt of the earth.” –Virginia Woolf
Praise for Urne-Burial:
“One of the most celebrated examples of 17th century prose.” –The New York Times
“It smells in every word of the sepulchre.” –Ralph Waldo Emerson
“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
Praise for Religio Medici:
“A literary and medical classic.” –Irish Times
“No desert island would be all bad that had upon it copies of Sir Thomas Browne’s Religio Medici and Robert Burton’s Anatomy of Melancholy.” –The Age (Melbourne)
“Perhaps the two greatest meditations on ageing in English, Sir Thomas Browne’s Religo Medici and Robert Burton’s Anatomy of Melancholy.” –Sunday Times (London)
“One of the masterworks of English prose” –Sunday Times (London)
“A small literary jewel of contemplation.” –Sherwin B. Nuland