History & Ideas

Lapham’s Quarterly

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One of my first projects was starting a magazine with Lewis Lapham, the legendary editor of Harper’s. I was young; he was in his mid-70s. I was angling for my first act; he was curating his last.


His idea was a quarterly magazine composed of excerpts — anything ever written was fair game — arranged chronologically, and when collected together spoke to a common theme, one per issue. Art, quotations, infographics, and contemporary essays would fill out the rest.

Although I was young and inexperienced, my insight was that arranging the excerpts in order of date undercut the genius of his vision, namely the idea of history as a recurring and ongoing conversation. We could be free to place Shakespeare alongside Neitzsche (which we did), and it’d be like Brooks and Shields, but across an ocean of time.

It was an honor and pleasure to cut my teeth line editing Jack London, Virgil, Virginia Woolf, and Basho like they were staff writers. And to work alongside one of the publishing world’s greats — who still helms the magazine to this day. 

Editor in Chief: Lewis H. Lapam
Art Director: Timothy Don