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On Melancholy

On Melancholy

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Journey through the subject of melancholia in this easily accessible volume, touching on topics from love and sex to religion and geography. A new volume to add to Hesperus’s unique and bestselling ‘On’ series.

Burton’s Anatomy is one of the great, but unclassifiable, prose works in English literature: diverting, delightfully rambling and filled with recondite learning and peculiar facts and speculations. Burton, frustrated at the stagnant, disorderly society in which he found himself, became convinced that the problems of England lay in its inclination to melancholy.

This is the starting-point, or pretext, for a hugely wide-ranging survey of the causes, descriptions (and cures) of melancholy. Burton’s unsystematic approach to his subject contributes greatly to its charm and interest, for much of it is composed of digressions that are, in effect, self-contained essays on all manner of subjects: cosmology, religious fanaticism, devils and spirits, food, love and sex.

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