Archives & Special Collections Gallery Exhibit




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Creation Date

Fall 2014


Artifact Label:

Robert Burton (1577-1640)
The Anatomy of Melancholy
London: Printed for Peter Parker at the Signe of the Legg & Starr in Cornhill over against ye Royalle Exchange, 1676

A major literary inspiration for Melville, The Anatomy of Melancholy is a massive collection of verses, lists, charts and anecdotes on melancholy as well as remedies to treat the condition. It is in some ways, like Moby-Dick, a text of texts. Built out of an enormous range of books available in the 17th century, Anatomy functions, like Moby-Dick, as a kind of library. While the subject of melancholy may sound dry or perhaps depressing, the work is known for its innovativeness, humor and literary excellence. It is also worth noting that the author Robert Burton, in addition to being a vicar, was also a librarian