You are browsing the archive for musaeum clausum.

Texts in Sebald’s The Rings of Saturn

- April 23, 2013 in chateaubriand, collections, Diderot, Fitzgerald, Garden of Cyrus, Grimmelshausen, Gustave Flaubert, History, Hydrotophia or Urne Buriall, madame boavry, musaeum clausum, Rubáiyát, sebald, Simplicius Simplicissimus, swinburne, texts, Texts: 19th, Texts: Fiction, Texts: Miscellaneous, Texts: Non-fiction, Texts: Poetry, thomas browne, w.g. sebald

At the time of his death in 2001 at the age of 57, the German writer W.G. Sebald was cited by many critics as a future winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature. It was his book The Rings of Saturn, written in 1995 (translated into English in 1998), which went a long way to securing Sebald’s reputation as a writer pioneering a new kind of literary fiction. The book is exemplary of his strange and unique style: the hybridity of genres, the blurring of fact and fiction, the indistinct black and white photographs, and his meditation on the destructive nature of history, the human lives affected, and the restorative power of art. The book is, on one level, a walking tour through the English counties of Norfolk and Suffolk, Sebald’s adopted home (he’d taught literature at the UEA there since 1970). The reader moves with the melancholic narrator from town to town, village to village, but in the process – through an astonishing network of associations, tangents, and apparent coincidences – one is led all over the world, into many different times, and many different lives. A ride on a miniature railway at Somerleyton Hall leads to 19th century [...]

Musaeum Clausum (1684)

- April 10, 2012 in musaeum clausum, non-article, texts, Texts: 17th, Texts: Fiction, Texts: Miscellaneous, thomas browne

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“Museaum Clausum” in Certain Miscellany Tracts, by Thomas Browne; 1684; London

In the latter half of the 17th century the English polymath Thomas Browne wrote Musaeum Clausum, an imagined inventory of ‘remarkable books, antiquities, pictures and rarities of several kinds, scarce or never seen by any man now living’. His list of desired items includes an ostrich’s egg engraved with a scene from the battle of Alcazar, a ring found in the belly of a fish (reputed to be the ring of the Doge of Venice with which he annually weds the sea), the mummified body of one Father Crispin of Toulouse, and ‘Batrachomyomachia, or the Homerican battle between frogs and mice, neatly described upon the chizel bone of a large pike’s jaw’.

Claire Preston, in her article “Lost Libraries” for The Public Domain Review, explores Browne’s extraordinary catalogue amid the wider context of a Renaissance preoccupation with lost intellectual treasures.

Open Library link

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