The Anatomy of Melancholy (New York Review of Books Classics Series)

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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.

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Editorial Reviews

Nicholas Lezard
Paperback not so much of the week as of the year, of the decade - or, I am inclined to say, of all time. And why? Because it's the best book ever written, that's why. I use the word "book" with care. It's not a novel, a tract, an epic poem, a history; it is, quite self-consciously, the book to end all books.... And not only that, but it's useful: it makes you less melancholy. So buy it now.
The Guardian (London)
This work is cited in Books for College Libraries, 3d ed.. It is one of the major documents of modern European civilization, a survey not only of melancholy in all its myriad forms, but also of humanity's endless efforts to assuage it. First published in 1621, the book was an immediate popular success. The New York Review Books edition was edited by Holbrook Jackson in 1932. This new edition contains a new introduction by William Gass, director of the International Writer's Center. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780940322660
  • Publisher: New York Review Books
  • Publication date: 4/28/2001
  • Series: New York Review Books Classics Series
  • Pages: 1424
  • Sales rank: 300,547
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 2.26 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction vii
Introduction to the 1932 Edition xvii
Note on the Text xxx
The Anatomy of Melancholy
Democritus Junior to His Book 3
The Argument of the Frontispiece 7
The Author's Abstract of Melancholy 11
Democritus Junior to the Reader 15
To the Reader who Employs His Leisure Ill 124
The First Partition
The Synopsis of the First Partition 126
Section 1. Of Diseases in General, and of Melancholy; with a Digression of Anatomy 130
Section 2. Causes of Melancholy; with a Digression of Spirits 177
Section 3. Symptoms of Melancholy 382
Section 4. Prognostics of Melancholy 429
Notes 441
The Second Partition
The Synopsis of the Second Partition 1
Section 1. Cure of Melancholy in General 5
Section 2. Diet, etc., Rectified; with a Digression of Air 21
Section 3. A Digression of Remedies against Discontents 126
Section 4. Medicinal and Chirurgical Remedies 207
Section 5. Particular Cures 235
Notes 262
The Third Partition
The Synopsis of the Third Partition 1
Section 1. Love and Its Objects 3
Section 2. Love-Melancholy 40
Section 3. Jealousy 257
Section 4. Religious Melancholy 311
Notes 433
Glossary 505
Index 521
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 – 9 of 7 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 11, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Wow...This book remains on my end table for regular reading!

    This massive book is by far the most challenging, yet the most rewarding book I have ever tackled. Do not attempt to read this book from cover to cover, because it is not possible. Read a few pages at a time and let it sink in...that is the only way to really understand Mr. Burton.

    This book is funny, disturbing, interesting, and thought provoking! A must read for anyone dealing with "Melancholy" or for those that appreciate a true master piece. I have given this book out as gifts, and with sincere thanks.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 10, 2006

    Well worth the effort

    After five weeks I'm only halfway through this magnificent, shaggy tome, but whereas at the outset I was good for only five or ten pages at a sitting, I now go thirty to sixty. I took up 'The Anatomy of Melancholy' (hereafter 'TAoM') on the word of the late Robertson Davies, who described it in superlatives, and but for the esteem in which I held the great Canadian magical realist I might have given up within the first hundred pages before the spell took hold. But once you catch the rhythm of this magical book... I'm going to have to quote here from the preface to a variant of this edition: ***'The Anatomy of Melancholy' is the revelation of a vivid and generous, so tolerant and cranky and wise, so filled with bizarre knowledge and so rich in absurd and touching anecdotes, that an hour in his company is a stimulant to the soul.'*** That about says it. To read 'TAoM' is to be placed in intimate contact with the mind of a tireless scholar who lived four centuries ago, whose insatiable hunger to know the world and whose charming digressions constitute between them an extraordinarily evocative picture of a seventeenth century mind. As I say, I'm only halfway through this, and it took me two weeks to slog through what I'm sure would be less than two days upon the re- reading to make it past the author's preface, but I'm already starting to bore my friends like a new convert to some regimen of exercise, religion, 9/11 conspiracy, or diet. Take up this tome, read it at bedside first for its soporific qualities (I defy you to go five pages at a strech initially) and later because you'll not know how you got this far without it.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 6, 2004

    my studies

    i have had anatomy of meloncoly for at least 15 years i studied it in college for my disertation and have concluded that this is essential reading for all under grads

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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Sort by: Showing 1 – 9 of 7 Customer Reviews

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