What cannot be cured must be endured, Robert Burton wrote four centuries ago in his The Anatomy of Melancholy
- a survey of sadness 'in all its myriad forms.' Without admitting it to ourselves, we all silently know that there is no cure for our tragedy and so, the nation groans in unending violation.
Melancholy, with its "traditional" definition (getting back to furor, as in furor poeticus) by Shakespeare's Jacques in As You Like It ("I have neither the scholar's melancholy, which is emulation, nor the musician's, which is fantastical; nor the courtier's, which is proud; nor the soldier's, which is ambitious; nor the lawyer's, which is politic; nor the lady's, which is nice; nor the lover's, which is all these; but it is a melancholy of mine own, compounded of many simples, extracted from many objects, and indeed, the sundry contemplation of my travels, in which my rumination often wraps me in a most humorous sadness"), Robert Burton's most extensive description in his Anatomy of Melancholy
(1621) and Dr.
Varina reads the Greeks, Cotton Mather and Dante as well as The Anatomy of Melancholy
and The House of Mirth; she meets Oscar Wilde; and after her husband's death she completes his memoir, as if to discharge an overdue debt.
As Robert Burton wrote in The Anatomy of Melancholy
, "What can't be cured must be endured"; but whether Schutz's abstracted figurative works make our estrangement bearable or commodify melancholy as humor is unclear.
Articulated as a comparison between Benjamin's Arcades Project and The Anatomy of Melancholy
, the chapter is must reading for Burton scholars and for students of early modern melancholy.
(57) Robert Burton, The Anatomy of Melancholy
, eds Thomas C.
The contributions that make up the main body of the text are devoted to a wide variety of related subjects, including Orientalism and utopian intellectual history in Robert BurtonAEs The Anatomy of Melancholy
, the Student-Interpreters Corps and the United StatesAE understanding of Asia, 1902-1941, Ha JinAEs The Crazed and Nanjing Requiem, and others.
What we call schizophrenia and bipolar disorder are recognizable in literature dating back to ancient Greece, and The Anatomy of Melancholy
, published in 1621 by the English scholar Robert Burton, remains one of the most astute descriptions of depression.
Ode on Melancholy is ultimately a mortality ode--a genre shadowed by its housing in the same volume as Keats's last romance, Lamia, where a young man's fatal enchantment by a lady who vanishes (perhaps was never gettable) takes a cue from The Anatomy of Melancholy
. Keats was reading this treatise both with a poet's and a medical student's attention, and postscripted a citation as the epitaph to Lamia.
Marsilio Ficino's (1433-1499) Three Books of Life, which deals with the health hazards of intellectual pursuits and Robert Burton's (1577-1640) widely read and highly influential The Anatomy of Melancholy
(1621) are also especially important literary sources.
THE ANATOMY OF MELANCHOLY
, Birmingham Rep, Today & Tomorrow, 0121 236 4455.
Thursday The Anatomy of Melancholy
was the first selfhelp book, written 400 years ago.