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Divination In Pseudodoxia Epidemica: Thomas Browne’s Habits Of Revision

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Chapter Summary

The number and types of divination or augury known to early modern savants such as Thomas Browne were as various as the creatures of the earth: from dowsing to hepatoscopy, from rune casting to critomancy, and from ornithomancy to tyromancy. As Robin Robbins has observed, the focus of modern scholarship on Browne?s works has shifted away from an earlier emphasis on prose style. This chapter seeks to contribute to this continuing debate by drawing attention to the emergent nature of Browne?s thought through the early editions of Pseudodoxia ? the characteristics of which are revealed in a telling shift, in the vocabulary of Browne?s inquiries into the truth or falsity of enduring popular customs such as divination. Evidence of Browne?s habits of revision can be found in the copies of Pseudodoxia so far discovered with autograph corrections.

Keywords: divination; Pseudodoxia Epidemica; Thomas Browne



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