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'Tis All One

«The Anatomy of Melancholy» as Belated Copious Discourse


Mary Murphy Schmelzer

'Tis All One seeks to understand the epistemological shift to the empirical validation of truth that characterized the intellectual climate in Western Europe at the beginning of the seventeenth century. It focuses on the frustrations that Robert Burton could not suppress as he wrote The Anatomy of Melancholy, applying the model of copious discourse that Desiderius Erasmus encouraged nascent rhetoricians to employ in the de Copia he published a century earlier. By 1620 Burton cries out there are «too many books» for him to read on the subject of melancholy and finds that sixteenth-century methodologies yield bitter fruit.