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The Anatomy of Melancholy (New York Review Books Classics) Paperback – April 30, 2001
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It was compliled from all the books of the 17th century and is not really about melancholy, per se. It is, rather, Robert Burton's view of mankind and mankind's condition. All mankind. And all conditions. It is about melancholia, sure, but it is about everything else as well. Melancholia was just Burton's excuse to write about everything under the sun in a strikingly original way and then have the nerve to remind us that there is nothing new under the sun. This is a book filled with both endless quotes and endless quotable material and, to the surprise of many, it is a comic masterpiece. Perhaps "the" comic masterpiece. Burton chose to publish this book as having been written by "Democritus Junior," and if that doesn't give you a hint regarding the humor that follows, then not much will.
If you like good literature, you'll love this book. If you like psychology, you'll love this book. If you want to seem pretentious, you need this book. Mostly, however, this is a book for people who love words. Burton may have seemed like a raving madman to some, but he was a man obsessed with a love for the English language...and it shows.
The Anatomy of Melancholy wasn't meant to be read from the first page to the last; I have never met anyone who did that and one would have to be more than a little mad to even try. Just pick up the book. Open it to any page. You may find lists, digressions, bits of 17th century prose, quotes, much Latin.Read more ›
Unlike the "all-English" edition referenced..., the Everyman/NYRBClassic edition gives the Latin tags as Burton scattered them through his work and translates each and every one, either in brackets immediately afterward, or (sometimes) in an endnote to each of the three volumes (now bound as one). I've tried to read the "all-English" edition, and it's disappointing, because it turns out that Burton wanted readers to read the Latin tags whether they could understand them or not. He included their syllables in the rhythm of his prose, so as you read this edition, you can almost hear him quote, then translate, then continue onward.
No booklover should skip this one, and this is the edition to have.
Burton is not a writer for fops and milquetoasts. He was a crusty old devil who used to go down to the river to listen to the bargemen cursing so that he could keep in touch with the true tongue of his race. Sometimes I think he might have been better off as the swashbuckling Captain of a pirate ship. But somehow he ended up as a scholar, and instead of watching the ocean satisfyingly swallowing up his victims, he himself became an ocean of learning swallowing up whole libraries. His book, in consequence, although it may have begun as a mere 'medical treatise,' soon exploded beyond its bounds to become, in the words of one of his editors, "a grand literary entertainment, as well as a rich mine of miscellaneous learning."
Of his own book he has this to say : "... a rhapsody of rags gathered together from several dung-hills, excrements of authors, toys and fopperies confusedly tumbled out, without art, invention, judgement, wit, learning, harsh, raw, rude, phantastical, absurd, insolent, indiscreet, ill-composed, indigested, vain, scurrile, idle, dull, and dry; I confess all..." But don't believe him, he's in one of his irascible moods and exaggerating. In fact it's a marvelous book.Read more ›
To begin, the cover is an eyesore. The plain black text indicating the title and author is surrounded by a hideous orange border. "Voted #1" is emblazoned in the corner; a tacky, transparent marketing ploy. I would be embarrassed to have someone see this book on my bookshelf.
Opening this tastelessly bound book, after being warned that the contents may not be accurate due to the rapidly changing nature of the internet (???), you will find that the text appears to have been formatted in Microsoft Word. It is hideous and pretty much unreadable.
If one does make the mistake of trying to read it, one will find that most of the book is missing! I think that this book may actually be "Part 1" of The Anatomy of Melancholy. Is the publisher even aware of this? Who knows. There is no introduction, no translations for the Latin passages, nothing. For all appearances, the publisher googled _The Anatomy of Melancholy_, copied the text he found into Microsoft Word, and printed out copies using a book binding machine he bought off of Ebay.
Do yourself a favor and avoid this publication. CreateSpace (aka Helpful Solutions) is manufacturing kindling, not literature. Buy the book from another publisher.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book has provided capital entertainment for the wise and the curious for nearly four hundred years.Published 10 months ago by Amazon Customer
A Note Addressed to the Frustrated Burton Reader:
I hope your conquest is proceeding well, if not easily. First, do keep fighting the good fight. Read more
This isn't a light read by any means. But if you are interested in early modern medicine, psychoanalysis (though that is anachronistic), and/or how early modern people thought of... Read morePublished 11 months ago by Megan
The Amazon Review -bot asked me how this "story" is "narrated." That's a good question. Read morePublished 13 months ago by G. Mosley
I searched for this book for over five decades, ever since I came across an excerpt of it in a college anthology of seventeenth century English literature. Read morePublished on June 8, 2014 by Daniel L. Copenhaver
This has to be the perfect bedside book, except for the size (the paperback is about three inches deep). Read morePublished on May 24, 2014 by reading man
" I am therefore in this point a professed disciple of Apollonius, a scholar of Socrates, I neglect phrases, and labour wholly to inform my reader's understanding, not to please... Read morePublished on April 8, 2014 by Paul Camp
Burton's thoughts on the nature of man and the resulting impact on culture are an illuminating perspective on his era and the impact of the Classical Education on that thinking. Read morePublished on February 21, 2014 by Tim Bloch