Homage to Sir Thomas Browne by Anne and Patrick Poirier. Photograph from Literary Norfolk
Today, Norwich, where Browne lived for much of his life, commemorates its most famous resident with a sculpture of his brain near the place of Browne’s internment. A pamphlet about the sculpture cheerily notes that Browne “was very ‘brainy’” and that “his house was approximately where the café Pret a Manger is now.” I like the idea of Browne’s brain presiding over an unremarkable commercial domain—Shoe Zone Limited, McDonald’s—because mundanities excited his curiosity as if he were a child. He would have spent hours in the nearby Body Shop, inquiring about the provenance of its salves, lecturing bored clerks on what marvels the ancient Romans had achieved with fennel.