When did the author starve for art? Or starve because of it? We often think of such a romantic notion stemming from a poet like Keats or Baudelaire; a poet coughing up blood in a garret, or a writer crying out against the book-hating bourgeoisie in a tavern. Yet this romantic rebel has roots in the renaissance scholar as depicted in a chapter of Robert Burton’s 17th century “loose and baggy monster” of a book, The Anatomy of Melancholy. The dislocation that many modern authors feel from the market place is not a recent phenomenon. As Burton outlines in the section titled “Miseries of Scholars”, “Most other trades and professions, after some seven years’ apprenticeship, are enabled by their craft to live of themselves”--but not the author, who according to Burton, “toil and moil, but what reap they?” With a keen, almost prophetic eye, Burton captures the dilemma of the literary artist trying to survive in the commercial marketplace, and what that dilemma often holds for the writer trying to survive in that marketplace while trying to serve the muse.
|Keywords:||Author, Art, Anatomy of Melancholy, Muse|
Associate Professor of Humanities, Humanities, Capital Community College, Hartford, Connecticut, USA
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