Ostensibly an elaborately systematized medical treatise dealing with various morbid mental states — their causes, symptoms, and cures — the Anatomy is much more: a compendium of memorable utterances on the human condition in general, compiled from classical, scholastic, and contemporary sources. For this edition, the editors carefully selected passages of the most psychological and general interest, eliminating the nonessential material but retaining the incomparable humor, eccentric charm, imagination, and thought-provoking appeal of the original.
In short, readers will find here the essence of Burton's vast book — the passages that, according to noted scholar W. H. D. Rouse, reveal the author's "eternal freshness, his own ingenuous interest, [and] his boyish delight in a good story."
The Anatomy of Melancholy is the vast and only work by Robert Burton, the seventeenth-century English priest and scholar. It 'opens and cuts up' the condition of melancholy, or depression as we know it today, and in doing so explores a dizzying range of additional topics including goblins, beauty, the geography of America, digestion, the passions, alcohol and kissing. Burton believed that reading was a cure for melancholy, and so the book itself - one of the most unique and uncategorisable works of all time - can be seen as a tonic for the very condition it describes.
Throughout history, some books have changed the world. They have transformed the way we see ourselves – and each other. They have inspired debate, dissent, war and revolution. They have enlightened, outraged, provoked and comforted. They have enriched lives – and destroyed them. Now Penguin brings you the works of the great thinkers, pioneers, radicals and visionaries whose ideas shook civilization and helped make us who we are.