Robert Burton's The Anatomy of Melancholy is one of the last great works of English prose to have remained unedited. The present volume inaugurates an authoritative edition of the work, which is being prepared by scholars on both sides of the Atlantic. It will be followed by two further volumes of text with textual apparatus, and two volumes of commentary. Burton concentrated a lifetime of inquiry into the Anatomy, describing and analysing melancholy and its causes - devoting especial attention to love and religion - and recording possible cures. Primarily a scholarly study of morbid psychology, it is also a compendium of curious facts and anecdotes, and combines seriousness of purpose with a marked satirical vein. First published in 1621, it was a great success: four more editions were published in Burton's lifetime, in each of which new material was added, and a sixth, containing his final revisions, was published in in 1651, eleven years after his death. The textual complexity and Burton's extraordinary range of reference have hitherto deterred editors: this is the first scholarly edition to appear. The text is based on a complete collation of all six authoritative editions.
'impeccable ... we can be immensely grateful to Kiessling, together with Thomas C. Faulkner and Rhonda Blair, for producing the first part of a projected five-volume scholarly edition of the Anatomy ...As well as providing foundations for future investigators, this publication contains a valuable scholarly Introduction by J.B. Bamborough.'
Roy Porter, Wellcome Institute, Medical History 34(4):Oct '90
`we have an authoritative edition of one of the most important, as well as compendious, works of seventeenth century literature and science...The editors and the Oxford Press deserve our thanks in bringing this giant task to completion in a readable form...for literary scholars and specialists, it can no longer be said that Burton 'awaits his editor''
'It is a great pleasure to congratulate all concerned with the Washington State/Oxford Anatomy of Melancholy on the appearance of the first two volumes of this eagerly awaited edition ... the publication of Volume I by 1989 is an impressive achievement in itself. A decade ago they, their associates, Washington State University, and Oxford University Press had the foresight, determination, and faith to embark on a project which, immensely valuable
as it is in itself in providing us with this splendid edition of Burton's masterpiece, has also opened up new territory to modern textual editing.'
Jonquil Bevan, University of Edinburgh, Review of English Studies, Feb '92
'two splendid volumes, fine examples not only of scholarship but of the bookmaker's craft - handsomely printed on heavy paper, exquisitely bound ... Such an edition represents years of labor by a number of editors, and it will be of permanent value in any scholarly library.'
R.V. Young, North Carolina State University, Journal of English and Germanic Philology, Volume 91, No. 4, October 1992
`the physical representation of the text...is generally excellent. The printing of the textual notes is just beautiful, with each textual note getting its own line! Doubtless, the Clarendon edition of Robert Burton's The Anatomy of Melancholy will be the standard text of the work for a long time and greatly benefit critics and students. The bibliographical work shows great care and thought, and the textual apparatus is as comprehensive as a modern
publisher is likely to produce.'