I knew it was probably coming sooner or later: Misogyny. I was still hoping that Burton might be ahead of his time with women-hating like he was with mental health awareness, or that he might at least ignore the other gender completely, but oh my no. No, we definitely do not have nice things to say about beasts with vaginas:
Pleasant at first she is, like Dioscorides’ rhododaphne, that fair plant to the eye, but poison to the taste, the rest as bitter as wormwood in the end (Prov. v, 4) and sharp as a two edged sword. “Her house is the way to hell, and goes down to the chambers of death” (Prov. vii, 27). What more sorrowful can be said?
Not incidentally, nearly all of the quotes in this section are from the Bible. Women are subhuman, nasty gross traps that ensnare men (who are so great!), etc. You have heard it all before. Mercifully, Burton does keep it to a single paragraph, which is remarkably concise compared to how he rambles about drunkenness, gambling, hunting, and excessive castle and garden building (?!) all in this single subsection.
Well at least we have progressed past this sort of vile thinking… Oh wait, no, no as of June 24, 2022, we very officially have not, no not at all, not in the United States at any rate.
As a female someone who loves to read and reads primarily English, I have very complicated feelings about… feelings when I encounter this grotesquerie in an otherwise staggering work of insightful, beautiful thoughts. I tried to draw those feelings here, while also staying true to this section. For me it is, in a word, sad.
On a lighter note, if I somehow acquire excessive wealth and turn wastrel, this is definitely how I will ruin myself: “Some men are consumed by mad phantastical buildings, by making galleries, cloisters, terraces, walks, orchards, gardens, pools, rillets, bowers, and such-like places of pleasure.” It really does happen, examples being: Horace Walpole, William Beckford, and, more recently, Nicolas Cage.
This post is part of a long, tedious, and very illustrated read-along of Robert Burton’s The Anatomy of Melancholy. More info here and follow along on Facebook here. Illustrations posted via devon_isadevon on Instagram.