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The Compleat Anglerby Izaak Walton
Synopses & Reviews
The Compleat Angler is the most famous book ever published in the literature of sport. It is also a work whose unique celebration of the English countryside has attracted readers around the world since it first appeared in 1653. Izaak Walton issued the final version of his beloved book in 1676, accompanied by Charles Cotton's pioneering exploration of fly-fishing. The Compleat Angler is both a manual of instruction and a vision of society in harmony with nature. It guides the novice fisherman on how to catch and cook a variety of fish, on how to select and prepare the best bait and make artificial flies, and on the habits of freshwater fish. It promotes angling as a communal activity in which the bonds of friendship are forged through shared experience of the natural world. Walton lived through turbulent times, and found in nature the best salve for national tragedy and personal sorrow.
The range of perspectives that Walton brings to bear on his rural descriptions embrace literature, poetry, anecdote, and a commitment to conservation. This new edition highlights the book's continuing relevance as an influential and provocative meditation on humanity's relationship to the environment.
About the Author
Izaak Walton (1593-1683) was born in Stafford. He was a biographer of the poet John Donne, and wrote lives of other notable Anglicans, including George Herbert and Richard Hooker. He was a Royalist, and during the Civil War participated in a royalist conspiracy after the battle of Worcester. In The Compleat Angler he expressed his political and religious allegiances while exploring humanity's relationship to the natural world. He is buried in Winchester Cathedral, where he is commemorated by a stained-glass window in the Fishermen's Chapel.
Charles Cotton (1630-87) was a country gentleman, poet, and translator, who built a fishing house for himself and Walton at his birthplace, Beresford Hall in Staffordshire. In 1676, at Walton's invitation, he wrote the second part to The Compleat Angler.
Marjorie Swann, editor, grew up fishing for perch and pike on St Joseph Island, Ontario. She subsequently earned degrees at Queen's University and Oxford. She is the author of Curiosities and Texts: The Culture of Collecting in Early Modern England (2001) and is writing a book about Walton's Angler and its post-seventeenth-century afterlives.
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History and Social Science » World History » General