I saw Lapham’s Quarterly a few weeks ago in the check-out lane at Whole Foods and had to have it. I find it absolutely charming and interesting and have decided it is my new favorite thing. Each issue focuses on a specific issue and is filled with shortish bits and bobs from all over. The journal’s website explains it better than I can.
Lapham’s Quarterly embodies the belief that history is the root of all education, scientific and literary as well as political and economic. Each issue addresses a topic of current interest and concern—war, religion, money, medicine, nature, crime—by bringing up to the microphone of the present the advice and counsel of the past.
The texts are drawn from authors on the order of Aristotle, William Shakespeare, Leo Tolstoy, Mark Twain, Thucydides, Virginia Woolf, Charles Dickens, Edith Wharton, Edward Gibbon, Mahatma Gandhi, Confucius, Honoré de Balzac, Jane Austen, Jorge Luis Borges, Matsuo Bashō, Henry David Thoreau, and Joan Didion. Abridged rather than paraphrased, none of the text in the Quarterly runs to a length longer than six pages, others no more than six paragraphs. Together with passages from the world’s great literature, each issue offers full-color reproductions of paintings and sculpture by the world’s great artists. The connecting of the then with the now is further augmented with the testimony found in the letters, speeches, diaries, and photographs, in five-act plays and three-part songs.
The website is very cool and has lots of content, but I must say, I love the printed version. The art is cool, it’s beautifully designed, and I love it as an object as much as I love the content.