The Complete Angler: A Connecticut Yankee Follows in the Footsteps of Walton

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9780060191894: The Complete Angler: A Connecticut Yankee Follows in the Footsteps of Walton

"Izaak Walton was my excuse to go to England. I had been thinking through ideas to get money from Yale in the form of a traveling fellowship for two years, and several attempts had failed. My last--and best--idea was to suggest to the fellowship committee that I go to England and fish in the footsteps of a legitimate seventeenth-century author, Izaak Walton, who wrote The Compleat Angler, the third most frequently reprinted book in the English language, one that has been in print for over three hundred years. I told them during my interview that Walton's words spoke to me, that fishing was my passion, and that his book represented and defended every facet of the art more lucidly than I ever could."-- James Prosek

James Prosek has been called "the Audubon of the fishing world" by the New York Times. A passionate fisherman and talented artist from a young age, he published two illustrated books on fish and fishing while still an undergraduate at Yale. After winning a traveling fellowship to follow in the footsteps of Izaak Walton, The Compleat Angler became his obsession. He was fascinated by Walton, a humble man who won the friendship of kings, and he was intrigued by the book's philosophies concerning the timelessness and immortality that could be achieved by fishing. Although Walton was sixty when The Compleat Angler was published and Prosek only twenty when he set off to visit England, they each had traits in common: a love of fishing and an extraordinary ability to make friends.

This is the story of a young man's pilgrimage through England, fishing the waters that are now privately held. Along with wonderful stories about good times, great fishing, and fine eating, this trip becomes an exploration of Waltonian ideals: how to live with humor, wisdom, contentment, and simplicity.

The original watercolors complementing the text are wonderful. Like Walton's book, The Complete Angler is not about fishing but about life. Or rather, it is about fishing--but fishing is life.

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Review:

Prosek has commandeered a unique branch for himself in the long stream of fishing literature. With Trout: An Illustrated History and Joe and Me, he's reeled in the reputation of a modern-day Audubon with a keen eye that translates experience into both words and watercolors. In The Complete Angler, he sets out to tackle the legacy of Isaak Walton, the granddaddy of littoral lit and his 17th-century classic, The Compleat Angler. While still an undergraduate, Prosek convinces the solons at Yale to fund a traveling fellowship for him to fish the waters Walton fished, to ponder their joint obsession with angling, and the fellowship and philosophies inherent in sitting on banks with a rod in your hand. "Fishing is my religion and the trout stream is my temple," Prosek declares proudly, which makes Walton at least a High Priest, if not the Messiah.

You certainly can't accuse Prosek of shrinking from a challenge. Walton's Compleat Angler is one of the towers of English literature. Not only the third most reprinted volume in the language (after the Bible and Shakespeare), it is the rare book that has spanned several centuries of readership without ever going out of print. Stepping into Walton's waders--literary and sporting--and fishing his way through public and private waters throughout Britain, Prosek attempts to navigate deeper, trickier currents than he's previously attempted. What he catches is part homage, part pilgrimage, part meditation, and entirely alluring--a work that balances youthful exuberance with insight and depth. Walton's considerable shadow challenges and encourages Prosek's growth as writer and artist; both his writing and the painting that illustrates this handsome effort are maturing. "I didn't exactly know what I would find," Prosek admits at the start. It's precisely this attitude that makes his journey, and the surprises he snares, all the more enchanting. --Jeff Silverman

About the Author:

James Prosek is a writer and artist. Dubbed “the Audubon of the fishing world” by the New York Times, his books include Trout, The Complete Angler, and Fly-Fishing the 41st. He lives in Easton, Connecticut.

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Prosek, James
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Book Description Harper, U.S.A., 1999. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Dust Jacket Condition: New. 1st Edition. First edition 1999 first printing, number line starts with 1. Hardcover with DJ. Condition new, square tight and crisp book, no markings of any kind, no names no underlinings no highlights no bent pages, Not a reminder. DJ new, bright and shiny, no tears no chips no edgewear, Price Not clipped. Square 8vo, 336 pages, bibliography. Bookseller Inventory # 013159

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Book Description NY: HarperCollins Publ., Inc. xi + 324 p., 1999. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Dust Jacket Condition: As New. James Prosek (illustrator). 1st Edition. 8vo illus. 1st Ed. -[CAT. 62-287.] - "This is the story of a young man's pilgrimage through England fishing the waters that Walton fished three centuries ago." -DJ blurb. I was disappointed that Prosek did not cite Diendorfer's "THE INCOMPLETE ANGLER: Fishing Izaak Walton's Favorite Rivers." NY: Dutton. 1977. Prosek certainly did a fair amount of research on Walton. And I enjoyed his story, his prose, and his watercolors. I was jealous that he conned his Yale committee for a travelling fellowship for his jaunt. But more power to him. A good read. New in As New DJ. Bookseller Inventory # osEo35Pr99

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