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The Anatomy Of Melancholy: Episode 15

July 15th, 2020


A non-captioned version can be seen here

As we approach the end of Robert Burton’s great survey of melancholy’s causes, which together form Section 2 of the the first Partition of his Anatomy, we find the material for today’s episode.

After six sub-sections describing in detail examples of accidental causes – things that happen to us – he has a host of circumstances still to be addressed and so forms them into a concluding list. The list is touching because it is all so familiar to us, close to home and timeless. If we have not experienced a misery arising from an item on this list then we each surely know a family member, friend or acquaintance who has. The exception appears to be ‘Bad Servants’ but translate this to our times as ‘Employees’ and define these as ‘people you pay to do jobs for you’ then who hasn’t felt this gloom?

Hearing this list performed summons in me a pleasurable melancholy that Burton acknowledges, and is tolerant of, but urges us not to indulge in ‘overmuch’. So, if like me you find yourself seduced by the sad beauty of this episode, please don’t re-watch it too many times.

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