Lapham’s Quarterly is a superb assembly of thought from all of recorded history. Each quarterly issue gathers essays and commentaries from great thinkers on a broad but specific topic. Recent issues have dwelt on Food, Lines of Work, Celebrity, The City, and Arts and Letters.
(I saw a video interviewer pronounce Lewis Lapham’s name as you pronounce the ‘a’ in laugh (or bad, cat, fact, and hat). Think of it as laugh-ums. But I digress.)
I raved about it here: Do you have time…? (Lapham’s Quarterly Fall 2011: The Future). I will rave about it again and unabashedly tout it as in my hugely humble opinion this is one of the finest compilations of quality literature I have ever seen. The pedestrian reader such as I can be exposed to a large number of great writers from throughout the ages without having to read each one at length and it depth. Reading Lapham’s often inspires me to go to Google or Wikipedia to find more information about an author and his work.
For the frugal many essays in each issue are available free online. However the print edition is a work of art itself generously decorated throughout with relevant colorful art and quotations. It is softcover of what appears to be very high quality paper. One would want to keep and collect these issues. I cannot imagine them easily being discarded after a first read. They are a valuable resource for the ages. Considering that the current annual new subscriber price is $49 ($12.25 per issue, $4 per month, or less than $1 per week) for a FULL year of reading and self-education, it seems darn well worth it to subscribe. Non-collectors can get an online digital subscription for $29 or both digital and print together for $59. Regular annual subscription price is $60.) Why haven’t I signed up? (I should be compensated for such blatant advertising but I’m not.) (I have signed up since I first wrote this. I have a subscription that includes the collectible print edition and the exact online reproduction access. Great reading is always at my fingertips, whether in very high quality paper print, on my Macbook Pro, iPad 2, or in a fine print pinch, on my iPhone (a last resort).)
The artwork from throughout time (paintings, sculpture, photography, and more) is superb. The randomly scattered quotes and sidebars, though sometimes distracting, are pertinent and thoughtful. Opening this issue to a page gives me “A little more than kin, a little less than kind.”, William Shakespeare, 1601 (p. 132) and “Nepotism, n. Appointing your grandmother to office for the good of the party.” Ambrose Bierce, 1906 (p. 130).
As noted the Winter 2012 issue is on FAMILY. I enjoyed it from start to finish. The main sections were Parents And Children, Spouses And Siblings, and Extended Family. Some of the authors I had heard of were Euripides, Henry James, Michelangelo, William Shakespeare, Leo Tolstoy, W.E.B. duBois, Adam Smith, Alexis de Tocqueville, Confucius, and Philip Roth, to name but a very few.
The last couple of issues have had roughly 90 separate items so one can budget reading to an item or two per day and be able to finish the issue within the current quarter.
Two articles off the beaten Family path that caught my attention while doing a preliminary browse was 1969: Spahn Ranch p. 166 Ed Sanders, a chilling account of how Charles Manson ruled the women in his twisted world, and 1945: Long Beach NY p. 172 by Mario Puzo and Francis Ford Coppola depicting a scene from The Godfather. I liked the way the Godfather referred to respect for family:
“Don Corleone: I understand. You found paradise
in America. You had a good trade, you made
a good living, the police protected you, and
there were courts of law-and you didrft need
a friend like me. But now you come to me and
you say, “Don Corleone, give me justice.” But
you don’t ask with respect; you don’t offer friend-
ship; you don’t even think to call me Godfather.
Instead, you come into my house on the day my
daughters to be married and you ask me to do
[You must respect Family!]
However, the bulk of the authors in FAMILY had more cogent things to say. A topical sampling:
Amy Chua – Modern day oriental parenting.
Henry James – 19th Century father vs. a daughter in love.
Jamaica Kincaid – instructions for a black girl growing up in Antigua.
Michelangelo – a letter to his father.
De Tocqueville – the politics of family. Aristocracy vs. the democratic family.
Browse http://laphamsquarterly.com/ for a variety of freely accessible articles.