The Anatomy of Melancholy, 148: The four humours, melancholy

AofM 148 Melancholyquote


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. 


Melancholy, cold and dry, thick, black, sour, begotten of the more feculent part of nourishment, and purged from the spleen, is a bridle to the other two hot humours, blood and choler, preserving them in the blood, and nourishing the bones. These four humours have some analogy with the four elements, and to the four ages of man.

As you might have guessed, melancholy is my favorite humor, which is why it took me quite a while to produce this one. I just got very stuck. I still can’t decide if my little melancholic creature should have droopy whiskers or not. Have you noticed how the closer something is to you, the harder it is to write about, draw, or what have you? Have you ever read Geoff Dyer’s book Out of Sheer Rage? Well, Dyer is really, really into D. H. Lawrence, so he tried to write a book about him. Out of Sheer Rage is about not being able to write that book. It is probably the best thing ever written about not writing anything.

I really love Robocop (the original), and I once tried to write an essay on why it is a sorely underappreciated masterpiece of American cinema. I know, I know, it is very popular. But not many people appreciate Robocop‘s brilliantly nuanced Marxist critique of American capitalism. So I tried to write about that, but mostly about how much I LOVE Robocop. I failed. That essay was one of the worst things I have ever written, and I showed it to no one. I’m no Geoff Dyer. So anyhow… something like that happened here with my drawing of melancholy: too many thoughts, too many ideas, too much love, very high expectations. I may return to it later, but I finally decided that – for the time being – I just had to do it.

Here are all the humors in one place. These were fun. And now I can keep reading, huzzah.

AofM 147 Blood4

AofM 148 phlegm2

A of M 148 Choler quote

AofM 148 Melancholyquote



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