Book PREview: The Modern "Rake’s Progress"

The Modern “Rake’s Progress”
Words by Rebecca West
Paintings by David Low

I am giving a preview of this book rather than waiting to do a review because I haven’t read it yet, but I am dying to share it with you all. I found this one a few weeks ago at a second hand bookshop not too far from our new house. It was one of those finds that I almost didn’t find. First I didn’t see it until I was on my second pass through this particular section and second because it is of a size that I normally wouldn’t pay too much attention to it. Being a larger format I never would have picked it up if the name Rebecca West hadn’t jumped out at me.

But I did look at it and I sure am glad that I did. Published in 1934 by Hutchinson and Co. the story follows George as he wakes up one morning to find himself unexpectedly a millionaire and a peer. Each chapter starts with a double page color plate and chronicles a step in his rise and fall. The Rake Gives a Cocktail Party, The Rake Invests in the Movies, The Rake’s Marriage, The Rake’s Divorce…you get the idea.

From here on out I will let the book speak for itself.


11 thoughts on “Book PREview: The Modern "Rake’s Progress"

  1. music-books-steve July 20, 2010 / 11:41 pm

    Wow, astonishing find, Thomas! It caused me to remember my copy of West's artist David Low's British Cartoonists Caricaturists and Comic Artists (1942)and I read what he has to say about Hogarth and the Rake's Progress. His assessment is somewhat ambivalent, mostly because of H's overt moralizing, but concludes that he ranks with Brughel, Gillray, and Daumier as “the four Old Masters of caricature and cartooning.” From your samples, it looks like Low captures a Hogarthian complexity of composition and ingenious graphic story-telling. Something was “in the air” re RP; remember that Auden's version of the Rake's Progress with Stravinsky came just a few years later in 1951.


  2. Mystica July 21, 2010 / 2:34 am

    The artists impression is more caricature than anything else as he seems to be slightly mocking! But what a find.


  3. Elise July 21, 2010 / 7:16 am

    That is such an exciting find!! I'm really looking forward to the review!!


  4. JoAnn July 21, 2010 / 7:46 am

    What a find! This is a gorgeous edition…. can see why you couldn't wait to share.


  5. Darlene July 21, 2010 / 8:23 am

    Spying the words 'Rake's Progress' I got all excited thinking about Hogarth but scrolling down I spied something different…but still wonderful. Going back for a second look…


  6. Danielle July 21, 2010 / 1:33 pm

    What a lovely find. Why don't they still make books like that? The illustrations alone are worth it, but to have a Rebecca West novel as well!


  7. Ti July 21, 2010 / 6:17 pm

    Quite the treasure. I'm glad you shared it with us now.


  8. Lorin July 22, 2010 / 6:44 pm

    Wonderful! I look forward to the official review.


  9. agoodstoppingpoint July 24, 2010 / 10:34 am

    I could see myself spending a good time looking at the pictures and amusing myself with all the different expressions and body language of the characters.

    – Christy


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