New Magazine Gives Voice to the Past

History reprints itself in Lapham's Quarterly
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 31, 2007 1:05 PM CST

(Newser) – After 30 years editing the high-brow Harper’s Magazine, Lewis Lapham has started his own, even higher-brow rag, appropriately titled Lapham’s Quarterly. Each issue focuses on a single topic, and then employs some heavy-hitting—and mostly dead—writers. Think Tolstoy, Lenin, or Thucydides. Lapham says he’s trying to “bring the voices of the past up to the microphone of the present.”

Reviewers haven’t been kind, the New York Times reports. One editor called the effort “pretentious” and noted Lapham’s notorious “command of inconsequentiality.” Another said the dead contributors made the periodical feel “like a museum.” But for a startup with a $15 cover price, Lapham’s is doing well. It has 6,000 subscribers, and at least one bookstore reported an instant sellout.