How to Drink

How to Drink : A Classical Guide to the Art of Imbibing

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A spirited new translation of a forgotten classic, shot through with timeless wisdom

Is there an art to drinking alcohol? Can drinking ever be a virtue? The Renaissance humanist and neoclassical poet Vincent Obsopoeus (ca. 1498-1539) thought so. In the winelands of sixteenth-century Germany, he witnessed the birth of a poisonous new culture of bingeing, hazing, peer pressure, and competitive drinking. Alarmed, and inspired by the Roman poet Ovid's Art of Love, he wrote The Art of Drinking (De Arte Bibendi) (1536), a how-to manual for drinking with pleasure and discrimination. In How to Drink, Michael Fontaine offers the first proper English translation of Obsopoeus's text, rendering his poetry into spirited, contemporary prose and uncorking a forgotten classic that will appeal to drinkers of all kinds and (legal) ages.

Arguing that moderation, not abstinence, is the key to lasting sobriety, and that drinking can be a virtue if it is done with rules and limits, Obsopoeus teaches us how to manage our drinking, how to win friends at social gatherings, and how to give a proper toast. But he also says that drinking to excess on occasion is okay-and he even tells us how to win drinking games, citing extensive personal experience.

Complete with the original Latin on facing pages, this sparkling work is as intoxicating today as when it was first published.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 320 pages
  • 114 x 171 x 32mm | 294.84g
  • New Jersey, United States
  • English
  • 1 b/w illus. 1 table.
  • 0691192146
  • 9780691192147
  • 91,297

Review quote

"[How to Drink is] a fetching translation . . . I recommend it, as much for its hints about drinking 'sustainably and with discrimination' as for its wry warnings about excess."---Roger Kimball, Spectator US "Fontaine has done a good job in resurrecting an amusing enough oeuvre for those who enjoy exploring such highways and byways."---Peter Jones, Classics for All "I found this book fascinating . . . I recommend How to Drink for anyone who enjoys history, the social aspects of alcohol, and the fact that some things never seem to change through the ages!" * * "[How to Drink] serves as relevant social commentary for today, railing, with wit and humor, against toxic masculinity and overindulgence while providing advice on how to win drinking games. It's a great addition to your bartending library."---Matt Kettman, Santa Barbara Independent
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About Vincent Obsopoeus

Michael Fontaine is professor of classics and associate vice provost of undergraduate education at Cornell University. His books include Funny Words in Plautine Comedy and The Oxford Handbook of Greek and Roman Comedy.
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