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Lewis Lapham Talks at Google by Lewis Lapham

Lewis Lapham Talks at Google

by Lewis Lapham

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Lewis Lapham stopped by Google for a conversation with Richard Gingras, Head of News Product.

You can learn more about Lapham's Quarterly on their site: http://www.laphamsquarterly.org .

Published four times a year, each issue of Lapham's Quarterly adopts and explores a single theme. In 2008, for example, LQ's first four issues were dedicated, respectively, to War, Money, Nature, and Education, each created with an aim to help readers find historical threads from Homer to Queen Elizabeth I to George Patton, from Aesop to Edith Wharton to Joan Didion. New essays from writers such as Stanley Fish, Fritz Stern, and Andrew Delbanco then knotted each theme together.

A typical issue features an introductory Preamble from Editor Lewis H. Lapham; approximately 100 "Voices in Time" that is, appropriately themed selections drawn from the annals and archives of the past and newly commissioned commentary and criticism from today's preeminent scholars and writers. Myriad photographs, paintings, charts, graphs, and maps round out each issue's 224 pages.

Lapham's Quarterly's modus operandi assumes that valuable observations of the human character and predicament don't become obsolete that the story, say, of an ancient Syracusan prison camp reverberates millennia later in the gulag of Siberia. Abridged rather than paraphrased, none of the texts in Lapham's Quarterly runs to a length longer than five or seven pages (a primary school memoir of Mary McCarthy, a celebration of entomological warfare from Thoreau); others to no more than five or seven paragraphs (a telegraph to President Eisenhower from the parents of the Little Rock Nine, a love lyric of Sappho). With text enhanced with full-color selections of art, Lapham's Quarterly draws not only from traditional sources such as literary narrative and philosophical commentary, but also from history's underutilized scrapbooks: letters, diaries, speeches, navigational charts, menus, photographs, bills of lading, writs of execution.

Cicero made the point fifty years before the birth of Christ that, "Not to know what happened before one was born is always to be a child." Lapham's Quarterly recognizes and promotes Cicero's notion that to know our history is to know ourselves; that, indeed, we have nothing else with which to build the future except the lumber of the past. By maintaining a keen focus on a single theme in each issue, LQ endeavors to reclaim our oft-forgotten history and to present it to a widespread audience. Issue by issue, Lapham's Quarterly seeks to forge men and women from Cicero's children, to spread a love of history to anyone who picks up a copy.


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