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The Lover’s Progress: Poems After William Hogarth

Between 1733 and 1735 William Hogarth produced a series of paintings and engravings under the title of A Rake’s Progress, which became perhaps his best known and most admired work. In this sequence he told a story of a young parvenu who, having inherited a fortune, resolves to emulate the stereotypical profligate and arranges his life according to the standard formula. When the dust settles we are left with a cautionary tale curiously neutralized, to some extent, by an extraordinary profusion of choreographic detail and an astonishing technical virtuosity, compelling delight and approval (or possibly resistance) in the aesthetic rather than the moral dimension.rnrnMotivated by Hogarth’s example, David Solway tells the story of a representative figure, a lover, of our own anarchic era which is in some ways very similar to the dissolute and ostentatious period the painter anatomized. Solway has equipped the lover with a sketchy CV: he is an inveterate traveller – or perhaps ‘cruiser’ is a better word – and diarist with an introspective bent, but he is also a confirmed voluptuary prone to distraction and not without a streak of coarseness in his nature.rnrnIllustrations detailing critical moments in the lover’s career have been contributed by renowned Montreal artist Marion Wagschal.

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