Monday, 8 February 2010

February 8th

Happy birthday to all 8th February people! A day shared by, among others, Robert Burton (born 1577), Jules Verne (born 1828) and Mary Queen of Scots (executed 1587).

Burton is best known as the author of “The Anatomy of Melancholy”, published in 1621, and probably the last book written in English which successfully summarised all learning up to that date. The narrator of Anthony Powell's Dance to the Music of Time (Nick Jenkins) wrote a book about Burton, and Powell uses a typically torrential passage from The Anatomy of Melancholy at the conclusion of the twelve novel sequence. In his Life of Johnston, Boswell wrote: "Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy was the only book that ever took him out of bed two hours sooner than he wished to rise.” However, probably not a book to be read nowadays, more a book to be dipped into, where you will always find phrases and ideas of interest.

"Like dogs in a wheel, birds in a cage, or squirrels in a chain, ambitious men still climb and climb, with great labour, and incessant anxiety, but never reach the top."

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