Thursday, August 10, 2017

This Obscure Fishing Book is One of the Most Reprinted English Books Ever Read

From Smithsonian-

“God did never make a more calm, quiet, innocent recreation than angling,” wrote Izaak Walton, born on this day in 1594, in The Compleat Angler.

Although the fish would likely disagree with this assessment, Walton’s fellow fishers clearly see something in the idea: after the Bible and Shakespeare, The Compleat Angler remains one of the most reprinted books in the English language. This is true even though it’s written in the English of 1676, the date of the final edition Walton edited and revised.  Why does it remain so popular?

The Compleat Angler isn’t so much a technical manual on how to fish as it is a book on how to enjoy the countryside and all of its bounty. Essayist William Hazlitt, writing in the 1800s, called it “the best pastoral in the language.”

There were already many manuals about fishing published by Englishmen, literature scholar Marjorie Swann told The Izaak Walton League of America,  on of the country's oldest conservation groups, but “what sets The Compleat Angler apart from these previous how-to books is Walton’s insistence that there’s so much more to being an angler than a technical knowledge of bait and tackle. For Walton, fishing is at once an environmental, social, and spiritual experience.” People still read Walden–why not this?

More here-

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