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The Anatomy of Melancholy

The Anatomy of Melancholy by Robert Burton
By: (1577-1640)

The Anatomy of Melancholy is a book by Robert Burton, first published in 1621. On its surface, the book is a medical textbook in which Burton applies his large and varied learning in the scholastic manner to the subject of melancholia (which includes what is now termed clinical depression).

Though presented as a medical text, The Anatomy of Melancholy is as much a sui generis work of literature as it is a scientific or philosophical text, and Burton addresses far more than his stated subject. In fact, the Anatomy uses melancholy as the lens through which all human emotion and thought may be scrutinized, and virtually the entire contents of a 17th-century library are marshalled into service of this goal.

Burton is forthright about his intentions in writing the Anatomy — "I write of melancholy by being busy to avoid melancholy," he concedes. This acknowledged desire to distract and amuse himself motivated Burton to produce a wide-ranging document, containing digressions and commentary. Whatever its strengths as a medical text or as a historical document, it is the Anatomy's vast breadth — addressing topics such as digestion, goblins, the geography of America, and others — and the particularly characteristic voice of its author that are most commonly cited by its admirers as the main sources of its appeal. Both satirical and serious in tone, the Anatomy is "vitalized by (Burton's) pervading humour", and Burton's digressive and inclusive style, often verging on a stream of consciousness, consistently informs and animates the text.

First Page:

FRONTISPIECE TO THE ORIGINAL EDITION

[Illustration: 1. Democritus Abderites; 2. Zelotypia 3. Solitudo; 4. Inamorato; 5. Hypocondriacus; 6. Superstitiosus; 7. Maniacus; 8. Borage; 9. Hellebor; 10. Democritus Junior

THE ANATOMY OF MELANCHOLY

What it is, with all the kinds, causes, symptoms, prognostics, and several cures of it.

In three Partitions, with their several Sections, numbers, and subsections.

Philosophically, medicinally, Historically, opened and cut up.

By Democritus Junior

With a Satyrical Preface conducing to the following Discourse.

The Sixth Edition, corrected and augmented by the Author.

Omne tulit punctum, qui miscit utile dulce.

London

Printed & to be sold by Hen. Crips & Lodo Lloyd at their shop in Popes head Alley. 1652]

THE ANATOMY OF MELANCHOLY,

WHAT IT IS,

WITH

ALL THE KINDS, CAUSES, SYMPTOMS, PROGNOSTICS, AND SEVERAL CURES OF IT.

IN THREE PARTITIONS.

WITH THEIR SEVERAL

SECTIONS, MEMBERS, AND SUBSECTIONS, PHILOSOPHICALLY, MEDICALLY, HISTORICALLY OPENED AND CUT UP.

BY DEMOCRITUS JUNIOR.

WITH A SATIRICAL PREFACE, CONDUCING TO THE FOLLOWING DISCOURSE... Continue reading book >>


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