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The Anatomy of Melancholy (Folio Society…

The Anatomy of Melancholy (Folio Society Edition 2005) (original 1621; edition 2005)

by Robert Burton

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Title:The Anatomy of Melancholy (Folio Society Edition 2005)
Authors:Robert Burton
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The Anatomy of Melancholy by Robert Burton (1621)


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The long and winding road or there and back again or Ode to Melancholy or:

Slips soft and curling....
notes of music wind
like silk caresses through my mind
and eyes see far-flung places
melted and meshed with faraway faces
again with inspiration born
of the breathless sigh that escapes my lips:
I have come to know so well your enslaving bliss
how you enchant my senses so that I exist
only in the moment when
vivid dreams spun in timid hope
evaporate as mist-like motes
above the drowning waters
of too intense desire:
and my soul for one brief instant breathes
the fire of annihilating ecstasy.


I write this melancholic whirl
of thoughts and feelings tangled as the curls
of hair upon my head
and fragile as the spider's web
are my tears which slip,
pearls of shining wistfulness,
in silent trails along my cheek
which longs to press against your coarse
unshaven face, so tired and yet
as enigmatic as if we had met
just yesterday.
  Scribble.Orca | Mar 31, 2013 |
Burton attempts to describe the causes and cures of melancholia, which today we label as depression. In the 17th century, human emotions were associated with various fluids in the body--a sanguine temperament with blood, a choleric temperament with an excess of bile. Melancholia was thought to arise from an excess of something called 'black' bile. As a physician, he describes a number of ways to overcome melancholy including the use of certain drugs. A monument to the author's erudition, the Anatomy contains a vast cabinet of recipes, stories, anecdotes, biographies and curiosa--enough to while away many an evening in front of the fire sipping a glass of old Port (a sure cure for melancholia!).
  TrysB | May 27, 2012 |
A perfect system of classification:except that it is wrong, completely wrong.
2 vote mdstarr | Sep 11, 2011 |
This is a book that I view as a reference work in the sense that I read it a bit at a time. I refer to it as the need arises whether due to my own melancholy or to a reference in another work. This is a massive creation of genius and a lifetime of thought. Burton seemingly has collected everything written about melancholy and, combined with his own musings on the subject, has provided the reader an immense edifice - one with selections too numerous to catalog here - and one that still entertains and educates centuries later. It deserves my continuing devotion and meditation on its content and meaning. ( )
1 vote jwhenderson | Jan 21, 2011 |
I've been reading the Anatomy for years off and on and I don't doubt that I'll continue reading it off and on for many years to come. It's really a world unto itself -- and not a small world at that, even though it is very much the picture of one man's mind. And it's a world that's strange and wonderful, confusing and infuriating, fascinating and boring, but one that I wouldn't want to have not known.

A note on the edition: The Folio edition of the Anatomy is well worth owning, if you like spending time with Burton and plan to continue the relationship. Besides all of the usual niceties of the usual run of Folio editions, there's something here that's particularly useful: the typesetting. With all of the quotations and notes that are an integral part of this sprawling text, it's much easier to read when it's properly set. ( )
2 vote cornerhouse | Sep 23, 2009 |
Showing 1-5 of 16 (next | show all)
Robert Burton's The anatomy of melancholy, first completed in 1621, appears to be a medical work, but is described in the Tudor edition of 1927 by Floyd Dell and Paul Jordan-Smith (Tudor Publishing Company, New York) as 'a sort of literary cosmos, an omnium gatherum, a compendium of everything that caught the fancy of the scholar.. . abounding in quaint conceits, excerpts and quotations'. The 52-page index to the 984-page text reflects this anecdotal profusion.
added by KayCliff | editThe Indexer, Hazel K. Bell (Aug 6, 1995)

» Add other authors (82 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Burton, Robertprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Dell, FloydEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gass, William H.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jackson, HolbrookEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jackson, HolbrookIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jordan-Smith, PaulEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Gentle Reader, I presume thou wilt be very inquisitive to know what antic or personate actor this is, that so insolently intrudes upon this common theatre of the world's view, arrogating another man's name; whence he is, why he doth it, and what he hath to say.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0940322668, Paperback)

One of the major documents of modern European civilization, Robert Burton's astounding compendium, a survey of melancholy in all its myriad forms, has invited nothing but superlatives since its publication in the seventeenth century. Lewellyn Powys called it "the greatest work of prose of the greatest period of English prose-writing," while the celebrated surgeon William Osler declared it the greatest of medical treatises. And Dr. Johnson, Boswell reports, said it was the only book that he rose early in the morning to read with pleasure. In this surprisingly compact and elegant new edition, Burton's spectacular verbal labyrinth is sure to delight, instruct, and divert today's readers as much as it has those of the past four centuries.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:32:16 -0400)

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