DescriptionAbout the book
The Anatomy of Melancholy
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.
About the Author
Writer, born at Lindley, Leicestershire, and educated at Oxford, took orders, and became Vicar of St. Thomas, Oxford, 1616, and Rector of Segrave, Leicestershire, 1630. Subject to depression of spirits, he wrote as an antidote the singular book which has given him fame. The Anatomy of Melancholy, in which he appears under the name of Democritus Junior, was published in 1621, and had great popularity. In the words of Warton, “The author’s variety of learning, his quotations from rare and curious books, his pedantry sparkling with rude wit and shapeless elegance ... have rendered it a repertory of amusement and information.” It has also proved a store-house from which later authors have not scrupled to draw without acknowledgment. It was a favourite book of Dr. Johnson. Burton was a mathematician and dabbled in astrology. When not under depression he was an amusing companion, “very merry, facete, and juvenile,” and a person of “great honesty, plain dealing, and charity.”