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Urn Burial (New Directions Pearls)

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Urn Burial, one of the most influential essays in Western literature, is now available as a New Directions Pearl. 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.

From Publishers Weekly

Jan 10, 2011 – In the mid 17th century, some 40 to 50 Roman burial urns were uncovered in the fields of Norfolk, the occasion of which moved Dr. Thomas Browne to reflect on the significance of their contents, as well as on the ultimate insignificance of their discovery. This gorgeous new edition reintroduces Browne's seminal meditation on impermanence. Browne explores the quirk of fate that these seemingly delicate urns of ash and bone remained unharmed, despite the work of the plow and the destruction of most everything above ground. He also considers the response to death of various faiths and traditions, those who do and do not cremate their dead. His quiet language is profound and humble, timeless as well as singularly poignant. Sebald's preface, excerpted from The Rings of Saturn, introduces Browne's life and work as a physician, along with Sebald's own account of his search for Browne's skull, rumored to have been kept in a museum hospital. Additionally, Sebald paints the landscape of Browne's Renaissance contemporaries as they too engaged with the remains of the dead, notably Rembrandt's painting of human dissection. The pairing of these two works accentuates the importance of both.
Urn Burial (New Directions Pearls)
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  • $9.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Literary Criticism
  • Published: Oct 26, 2010
  • Publisher: New Directions
  • Seller: W. W. Norton
  • Print Length: 96 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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