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.