The Anatomy of Melancholy, What it is. With all the Kindes, Causes, Symptomes, Prognosticks, and several Cures of it.... By Democritus Junior.
Oxford: Printed by John Litchfield and James Short, for Henry Cripps, 1621. First edition. Exquisitely bound by Riviere to high 19th century taste: full brown Levant morocco, gilt, all edges gilt, expertly washed and resized. A fine and complete copy, in a matching pull-off case. Bookplates of Sir Edward Sullivan (1822-1885), Lord Chancellor of Ireland ("An ardent and lifelong bibliophile, he had at his death amassed one of the most valuable private libraries in the kingdom" ODNB) and Fleming Crooks (1932 sale at Sotheby's). "The Anatomy ... was one of the most popular books of the seventeenth century. All the learning of the age as well as its humour--and its pedantry--are there...it exercised a considerable influence on the thought of its time," PMM. Among its admirers one can count Samuel Johnson, Laurence Sterne, John Keats (who said it was his favorite book ), and Charles Lamb. In more recent times the work has served as an inspiration for such a diverse group as Samuel Beckett, Jorge Luis Borges, Philip Pullman, and Cy Twombly. (Item ID: 22719)
The ambitious work is elaborately divided into partitions, divisions, sections, members and sub-sections: the first part defines melancholy in all its aspects; the second suggests a cure; the third deals with the frivolous forms of melancholy; and the fourth concerns itself with religious melancholy. The Anatomy, one of the most popular and influential books of the seventeenth century, has since proved an important text for medical historians and scholars seeking insight into the Elizabethan conception of self. It went through five editions in Burton's lifetime. "If ever a single book deserved to be called the work of a lifetime, it is this" Printing and the Mind of Man 120; STC B4160; Grolier English Hundred 18.