The Anatomy of Melancholy by Robert Burton
My rating: 1 of 5 stars
The penultimate Self-Help book. The medical man's history primer of Galen and Astrology. The completionist's guide to a completely exhaustive and exhausting compendium of (now) obscure references, to Latin, and frankly inexplicable inclusions.
If he went out of his way to design for us a perfect way to exhaust us with his knowledge of poverty, nobility, love, the Humors, the Galenic qualities of all kinds of foodstuffs, and do it with more in-text annotations than actual text, doing it all in that peculiar idiom common to any English text coming out before the advent of the DICTIONARY, then I think he succeeded. Admirably.
And let me tell you... Robert Burton defeated me.
He set out to give us the full wide range of depression in this academic treatise that fills to the height of 1620's modern medicine, stoops to the depths of hundreds of poetical sources, revolts us in explaining just HOW one might get depressed... and teaches us how to fight our own depression by making us come up with a thousand and one reasons why we ought to stop this FREAKING ENORMOUS BOOK and JUST STOP... thereby relieving our -- by now -- enormous melancholy.
I made it half-way through. I found myself negatively enjoying practically every new step in this amazingly long-winded treatise. I could not find a single aspect about it that made me want to continue.
Not the science, not the beginnings of psychology, not the weird historical curiosity.
I was defeated. I am sad to say, after 29 hours of Librivox and epub slogging, that I will now DNF.
I may laugh myself to sleep. The relief is palpable.
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