The Compleat Angler: Or, the Contemplative Man's Recreation

by Izaak Walton

Other authorsCharles Cotton (Contributor), Douglas W. Gorsline (Illustrator), James Russell Lowell (Introduction)
Hardcover, 1996




Easton Press (1996), 316 pages


Presents the definitive treatise of the contemplative man's recreation: Angling. It is a discourse of rivers, fish and fishing, into which is woven reflections of 17th century life.

User reviews

LibraryThing member TrysB
This English classic is known, at least by name, to nearly everyone. Is it a textbook on fishing? Yes, but it is much more than that. Written as a dialog between the Angler and various country folk such as shepherds, farmers and milkmaids, the instructions on catching fish are interspersed with a delightful hodge-podge of rural anecdotes, character studies, moral lessons, recipes, songs and poetry. The practice of angling is portrayed as practically the perfect occupation, teachings as it does the skills of reasoning and observation of Nature together with the virtues of patience and harmony. The second author listed after Walton, Charles Cotton, was his adopted son who was a skilled fisherman in his own right. Cotton wrote the section on fly-fishing as Walton had little knowledge of that area.… (more)
LibraryThing member PollyMoore3
I'm not the slightest bit interested in fishing, but love this for its ramblings about all sorts of other matters, and the delightful descriptions of how to cook your catch when you get home, or repair to the local inn.
LibraryThing member tgoodson
Someone please tell me why the National Council of Teachers of English based the theme of one of its conventions on this musty thing.
LibraryThing member Osbaldistone
You probably should enjoy fishing, nature, or English cultural history to really enjoy this book, but if you do, it's easy to love this book. Walden keeps his eye on the subject at hand (fishing, if you didn't get it from the title), but manages to work into this 'instruction' book a bit of 17th century 'science', manners, cooking, and a general picture of how it could be for a gentleman on a outing into the countryside.

An enjoyable read, and the antique English adds to the experience, rather than getting in the way.

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LibraryThing member SeriousGrace
Considering this was first published in 1653 the language is fun to stumble over; full of 'methinks,' 'thee,' 'tis,' that sort of thing. At first blush I would have said this is a nonfiction story of three gentlemen walking through the countryside bragging about their respective "hobbies." One man is a falconer, all about the birds. Another man is a hunter, primed for the kill. The third man is, of course, the fisherman, the angler. It is this man we learn the most from (hence the title of the book). There is a great deal more to the story - an 17th century "how-to" on cooking, inn-keeping, religion, poetry and the like, but I got incredibly bored and gave up halfway through.
As a postscript, I did enjoy the illustrations by Boyd Hanna in my undated edition.
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LibraryThing member Cheryl_in_CC_NV
I know I read it, and certainly I struggled with it at times, and thoroughly enjoyed other bits. I just don't remember it well enough to rate it.
LibraryThing member ritaer
More than I wanted to know about fishing in early modern England.


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