Marginalia, no.73

Raverat - Thomas Browne

…Sentences that resemble processions or a funeral cortege in their sheer ceremonial lavishness.

~ W.G. Sebald, on the prose of Sir Thomas Browne

I’m reminded of Gwen Raverat’s print, above, in which Death leans over Browne’s shoulder as he writes.  Browne was one of those unaccountable omissions in my formal education.  I was a year or two out of college when I first met him in the form of a bright yellow Anchor Classics paperback with a baroque ornamental cover so lovely I had to bring it home.   But accidental introductions are sometimes best, and some of our happiest discoveries -admit it- come from judging books by their covers.  Why all the morbidity about Browne? Perhaps abundance in language is sometimes more powerful for the final silence it evokes.  “The night of time far surpasseth the day,” he wrote, “and who knows when was the Aequinox?”

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