BURTON, Richard (1577-1640). The Anatomy of Melancholy. Oxford: for Henry Cripps, 1638.
2o (278 x 185 mm). Engraved title, woodcut head- and tail-pieces and initials. (Title affected with small repaired tear and wormhole, some spotting and browning thoughout, a few frayed margins.) Contemporary calf, covers stamped with gilt central lozenge and owner's initials "T.E." (rebacked and recornered, new endpapers, extremities rubbed, shelf-mark at base of spine). Provenance: County Borough of Warrington, Municipal Library (bookplate, and old stamp on verso of title).
Fifth Edition of Burton's classic work. "Robert Burton's The Anatomy of Melancholy (1638) begins with a magnificent confection, a title page of ten compartments each corresponding to a numbered stanza in the prefatory poem 'The Argument of the Frontispiece.' The diagram shows how image and stanza are linked. The poem, which repays study, is at right [transcribed in Tufte]. Compartment 10, for example, portrays Burton, not out of vanity of the author but rather at the insistence of the printed, at least according to the amusing stanza 10. This design is very special information display. The title page and accompanying poem reflect the book's argument, organization, and intellectual method. That method -- the cutting and pasting of images and words -- is announced in the opening lines: Ten distinct Squares here seene apart, And joyn'd in one by Cutters art. Moreover, the confectionary design of the title page reproduces the intellectual architecture of The Anatomy of Melancholy: about one-third of the book consists of quotations and another third of paraphrases. A busy cutter indeed, and Burton disingenuously comments: Marke well: If't be not as't should be, Blame the bad Cutter and not me (Tufte, Visual Explanations, pp.134-5). Madan II, 881; STC 4163.