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The Compleat Angler, or the Contemplative Man's Recreation Paperback – 10 Apr 2005


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Product details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Coachwhip Publications (10 April 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1930585209
  • ISBN-13: 978-1930585201
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 1.2 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 61,841 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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About the Author

Izaak Walton, one of the earliest English biographers who is best remembered as the author of The Compleat Angler, was born in the parish of St. Mary's, at Stafford, on August 9, 1593. His father, Gervase Walton, was an innkeeper who died when the boy was five. By the time Walton was twenty he was living in London, apprenticed to his brother-in-law, a prosperous clothier. His marriage to Rachel Floud, a relative of Archbishop Thomas Cranmer, in 1626 allied him with a prominent clerical family, and as a parishioner at St. Dunstan's Church Walton became a close friend of its vicar, John Donne. Among Walton's earliest surviving literary efforts is an elegy written in 1633 for the initial collection of Donne's poems. The poet-clergyman was the subject of the first of Walton's great biographical essays: Life of Donne served as the preface to the 1640 edition of the minister's sermons and was filled with anecdotes and personal impressions. Over the years Walton's loyalty to the Church of England, coupled with his genius for friendship, inspired him to write biographies of four other eminent theologians: Sir Henry Wotton (1651), Richard Hooker (1665), George Herbert (1670), and Dr. Robert Sanderson (1678). Each is distinguished by the intimacy and vivacity characteristic of the Life of Donne. It is little wonder that Samuel Johnson rated Walton's five Lives among 'his most favourite books.' Walton's reputation as a biographer is overshadowed by the enduring popularity of The Compleat Angler. First published in 1653, during the Civil War that forced Walton and other royalists to flee London, the work is more than an engaging discourse on the art of fishing. It reflects a thoughtful, sensitive Englishman's abiding concern with leading a contemplative life. Indeed, many have read Walton's unique celebration of angling throughout the English countryside as a veiled satire against Cromwell and the Puritans. Four revised editions appeared in the author's lifetime, and The Compleat Angler has enjoyed a wide following ever since. Samuel Johnson praised the book in the eighteenth century as did the Scottish philosopher Lord Home. Later, Charles Lamb recommended The Compleat Angler to Samuel Taylor Coleridge. 'It breathes the very spirit of innocence, purity, and simplicity of heart,' he noted. 'It would sweeten a man's temper at any time to read it; it would Christianise every angry, discordant passion; pray make yourself acquainted with it.' Walton remained active well into old age. The Restoration of Charles II in 1660 returned many of his friends in the Anglican clergy to positions of influence, and they were quick to reciprocate the acts of goodwill he had displayed during Cromwell's reign. Following the death of his second wife in 1662, Walton was employed as steward to the bishop of Worcester. At the bishop's residence of Farnham Castle in Wincester Walton continued to write and revise his published works. In 1676 Walton asked a young follower, the poet Charles Cotton, to furnish a supplement on fly-fishing for the fifth edition of The Compleat Angler, and the two pursued the project at a cottage on the banks of the Dove River in Derbyshire. On August 9, 1683, the inveterate angler marked his ninetieth birthday by drafting a will and securing it with a seal given him by John Donne. Izaak Walton died three months later on December 15, 1683 and was buried at Winchester Cathedral. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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YOU are well overtaken, Gentlemen: a good morning to you both: I have stretched my legs up Tottenham Hill to overtake you, hoping your business may occasion you towards Ware, whither I am going this fine, fresh May morning. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Ph Sharp on 6 Dec 2008
Format: Paperback
Whether you are new to 'The Art Of The Angle' [Fishing] or not, this book contains some superb, if a little archaic banter between two friends of the angle. The teacher and the apprentice. Sir Isaac Walton, [Piscator], considered to be 'The Father Of Angling' and Joseph Cotton [Venator] the willing apprentice of the angle. Follow their journey around England as they fish for all species. This is a wonderful journey back in time. Many things that Walton says have been disproved over the few hundred years since the first book was published. However many other things said by him, still hold true today, wonderful reading. My own copy is a 1955 version with an explained thesaurus at the base of each page.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 3 Feb 2000
Format: Paperback
Not surprisingly, this classic angling text has been continuously in print since first publication. Although serving as a fascinating reflection on the art of angling during the seventeenth century, the text still manages to capture the thrill and excitement that runs through the bloodstream of every modern-day dangler of the angle. All present day anglers, from the most fanatical of bivvy boys to the gentle chalk stream dabbler will gain pleasure and enjoyment from this most seminal of angling texts.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 4 May 2005
Format: Paperback
Walton uses the perspective of an enthusiastic angler to promote a lifestyle of reflectiveness, gentle humor, and appreciation for nature. The book is easy to read, despite being first published in the 1600s.
The Coachwhip Publications reprint edition (ISBN 1930585209) is inexpensive and contains Cotton's "Part 2," written at Walton's request for the fifth published edition of "The Compleat Angler."
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Arthur Crown on 22 May 2006
Format: Paperback
This is surely one of the earliest books available to the modern angler. But it's worth distinguishing 'anglers' from 'fishermen'. I take 'anglers' to be people who go after fish for fun or sport or pleasure and 'fishermen' to be people who go after fish for work.

The first thing to be said about Izaak Walton's book, is that it is a play followed by a text book. The second thing, is that it's in a foreign language even to the English, because it was first published in 1653 when the author was 60. A ripe old age in England in those days.

Walton was essentially a biographer. He got paid for it - often commissioned as a good artist might. He wrote 'The Life of Donne' - a poet who even I've heard of. He's alleged to have been a prosperous merchant, but it doesn't really matter. Great angling writers like Richard Walker were engineers. Old school writers like George Skues, were public school educated solicitors in London practices who took the train to the chalk streams of Winchester in Hampshire at weekends, tying flies as they went.

The play concerns three people who meet by chance and get into conversation about their interests. They're travelling at a walk, and so they lighten their journey with convoluted conversation. Before long, it develops into a bit of a competition. Walton is the angler (Piscator). Another gentleman is keen on falconry (Venator) and yet another is keen on hunting (Auceps).

If you tire of 17th century banter, skip forward to the chapters on each particular species of fish, which will ring true immediately. To me it's a revelation that these friendly old fish will still fall for the same tricks as Walton was playing on their ancestors over 350 years ago.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Waltonia on 16 Aug 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Isaak Walton's "the Compleat Angler" is one of those books often referred to but seldom found on a home bookshelf. It's taken many years to adorn mine.
It takes the form of a discourse between the Angler and a 'student' where the angler describes everything at need. While this could cause a certain confusion in the reader (it's like reading a script), it is marvellously detailed. Predictably, it is in the language of the 17th century, but this can make for an interesting read.
Highly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Memsec on 25 May 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Sir Izaak Walton, a man of the 1600's who enjoyed the "sport" of Angling although in those days they ate the Coarse fish they caught, frowned upon today by the "modern angler". Walton (Piscator) is teaching Joseph Cotton (Venator) the "ART" of angling and his hints and tips are still relevant today. A really good read even if written in the lyrical prose of that earlier time. You find yourself transported back to when the hustle and bustle of modern cities, would have been a figment of the imagination.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Eric Milsom on 19 Sep 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
So I have been an angler for over 40 years and have many books on this subject but not this one and as it is set in the very old days and sayings it is interesting to read on a cold winters night in the warm and a nice wine it is good
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Edward G Essex on 9 Mar 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Written in old English but the morals are relevant today. The whole book is constantly teaching you things that are still applicable today.
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