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Comment: The item is fairly worn but continues to work perfectly. Signs of wear can include aesthetic issues such as scratches, dents, and worn corners. All pages and the cover are intact, but the dust cover may be missing. Pages may include limited notes and highlighting, but the text is not obscured or unreadable.
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The Compleat Angler: or, The Contemplative Man's Recreation (Modern Library Classics) Paperback – May 26, 1998

4.4 out of 5 stars 62 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

For a book to stay in print for nearly 350 years, its merits must continually entice and allure. The Compleat Angler satisfies that on two counts. On the most obvious level, it remains as good a primer on fishing as any angler would want. But its most enduring distinction--what's raised an essential sporting how-to to the level of literary classic--is the one cast off by its subtitle; Izaak Walton's sometimes convoluted 17th-century grammar can still reel in our imaginations with his graceful evocations of a life free from hurly-burly in the company of friends intent on physical and moral sustenance. "He that hopes to be a good Angler must not only bring an inquiring, searching, observing wit," suggests the master, "but he must bring a large measure of hope and patience.... Doubt not but Angling will prove to be so pleasant, that it will prove to be like a virtue, a reward to itself." Just like Walton's magnificent literary catch. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

First published in 1653, Izaak Walton's The Compleat Angler celebrates the art and spirit of fishing in prose and verse. Walton infused his work with anecdotes and commentaries on catching and preparing everything from carp to trout, chub to pike. This modern Ecco Press edition is enhanced with a new introduction by Thomas McGuane and illustrations by Arthur Rackham. The Compleat Angler is as fresh and relevant today as it was two and a half centuries ago. The Compleat Angler continues to be "must" reading for every new generation of fishermen (and fisher women!) who have ever picked up a pole, line and lure to set forth on one of human kind's oldest pastimes -- fishing. -- Midwest Book Review --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Series: Modern Library Classics
  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Modern Library; Reprint edition (May 26, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375751483
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375751486
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (62 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #174,298 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
A lovely ramble with a fascinating old gentleman, quaint, charming, sunny and a true picture of one aspect of a bygone age and of the way our great-great grandfathers talked and lived. The fishing lore and natural history are hopelessly out of date but who cares? Has been in print for centuries and deservedly so.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Three hundred fifty years ago Izaak Walton wrote of the curious blend of inner peace and giddy excitement which the amateur naturalist finds at streamside. He invites us to stroll with him through the countryside, discussing the mythology, superstition, and the science of England's aquatic fauna. It is an unrushed journey, though we often arise at sunrise, and the author introduces us to many of the local inhabitants. Indeed, if our fishing is successful, we might exchange our catch for the song of a pretty milkmaid. The Compleat Angler is a brief book, and Walton's intent is to hook the reader, and encourage him to try fishing for himself: "I do not undertake to say all that is known...but I undertake to acquaint the Reader with many things that are not usually known to every Angler; and I shall leave gleanings and observations enough to be made out of the experience that all that love and practise this recreation, to which I shall encourage them." Interestingly, Walton starts off on the defensive, since the fisherman's passion was even then caricatured. By the end the reader has joined the "Brotherhood of the Angle," making artificial flies and enjoying the poetry of fishing: "The jealous Trout, that low did lie, Rose at a well-dissembled fly." To the modern ear Walton's literal belief in naturalists' old wives tales may seem humorously anachronistic, and it comprises a remarkably large part of his affection for his subject. We are also frequently reminded of the book's timeline with comments such as "...the Royal Society have found and published lately that there be thirty and three kinds of Spiders," while we now know that there are thirty thousand species of Arachnids. And the Brotherhood of the Angle is a genuine fraternity to Walton, "...Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover
If you don't know about this famous book by the inimitable Walton, you have a lot to look forward to. Purporting to be an account of a 5-day fishing idyll (when gentlemen were gentle men, and the English countryside was at once bountiful and near to hand), it is in fact a deeply engaging nostalgia trip into a never-never land of pastoral bliss -- an enduring cult classic having no exact parallel in world literature.

To say "evocative of simpler, happier times" is to barely hint at the near-mystical fragrance of this enchanting volume. Three high-spirited protagonists ("Piscator", "Venator", and "Auceps"), devoted to three rival outdoor avocations (fishing, hunting, and falconing, respectively), meet on a "fine, fresh May morning"; ramble across the countryside in search of lively fishing and hearty times; sing, banter, and versify; recount ancient wisdom (of often dubious validity) regarding the habits and temper of over a dozen local fish species; and encounter a classic sampling of innkeepers, milkmaids, gypsies, and various other idealized rural types. This is a refuge book for quiet evenings, one of those unaccountably transporting narratives of which no charmed reader has ever wanted to reach the end.

Some history: stolen in parts from precedents written as far back as 1450, Walton's work is nearly as early as it could be and still be readable without a line-by-line explanatory gloss ("compleat" is about as arcane as it gets). First published in 1653, there have been well over 100 editions in print. Some of the earlier ones contain Lang's sensitive and informative 28-page introduction to the author's life, the structure of the work, and its publishing history.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Whilst this edition/reprint includes the Charles Cotton supplement, the print quality is abominable. This is most evident when you look at the etchings and woodcuts. If you have seen the originals, they are crisp, clean and beautiful. In this book, they are little better than black smudges, with no fine detail visible. The tale in it's completeness is one thing. The etchings and woodcuts should add a beauty and delight to the whole experience of reading and owning this book. This version, printed on poor quality paper, is a huge disappointment.
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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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