Thursday, 14 June 2012

In praise of Izaak

As an angler who's also a Christian (or should that be the other way round!) it gives me great satisfaction to know that the most reprinted book in the English language is the Bible, and the second most reprinted Walton's classic "The Compleat Angler". It's hard to explain why Walton's work, written as a dialogue between Piscator (the angler) and Venator (the novice angler) has proved so enduring; written in Old English prose-style it ambles along, interspersing angling wisdom with the odd poem or recipe and the occasional reference to Walton's own firmly held Christian faith. Walton's life took in the English Civil War, the Great Fire of London and outbreaks of The Plague, yet despite the turbulence of his times Walton lived to the ripe old age of 90. Anyone desiring an introduction to Walton, but unsure if the book will be their "cup of tea" could do worse than to get hold of the excellent eponymously titled DVD made by Rae Borras and Geoffrey Palmer which brings the timeless charm of Walton's writing to life with quotes from the book woven into their own fishing adventure. There are hundreds of books available to the angling public that are full of the latest rigs, baiting theories and advice, and doubtless they help people to catch fish, but for evocative writing and a literary work that captures the spirit of angling, Walton is still the unsurpassed master.

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