By Robert Burton (Author), Angus Gowland (editor).
Burton’s Anatomy of Melancholy, first published in 1621, is a huge and innovative encyclopaedia of mental and emotional disorder, as understood in the late Renaissance. Celebrating the 400th anniversary, this fully edited, modern edition is published as a landmark hardback volume.
The Anatomy examines the causes and symptoms of melancholy or, as we would call it today, depression. Its remedies range from good food and exercise, to laughter, reading, friends, and music. Its closing page recommends that the reader ‘be not solitary, be not idle’, and the distraction provided by reading the Anatomy itself is one suggested cure.
This influential work has fascinated figures from Samuel Johnson to Jorge Luis Borges since the seventeenth century, and remains an incomparable examination of the human condition in all its flawed, endless variety.
A new exhibition at the Bodleian's Weston Library revisits the Anatomy, using objects from the Bodleian Libraries to highlight common experiences and connections over time. Curated by Oxford experts in mental health research and the humanities, the exhibition shows how Burton’s holistic and multifaceted conception of cure finds surprising echoes in contemporary psychiatry and prescriptions for mental health. Running from 29th Sep 2021 - 20th March 2022