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date: 18 January 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This article examines Robert Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy. It begins with a brief biographical sketch of Burton. It then outlines the principal interpretative problems posed by the Anatomy to modern readers, offering some suggestions about how these can be approached and possibly resolved. Next, the chapter discusses some of the key features of the book — particularly the relationship between its medical psychology and literary rhetoric — as Burton himself conceived them. It is shown how Burton's own remarks about his enterprise, and its intended effects on its readership, help us to anchor our reading of a text that sometimes seems to have been designed to beguile and confuse just as it informs and entertains.

Keywords: English prose, prose writing, prose style, medical psychology, literary rhetoric

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