Lapham's Quarterly on the City
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You can only see a portion of what's in the pages of the issue online, but it's a telling survey. I nodded vigorously despite myself when I heard Lapham he talked about the "poverty" of those who exist without a sense of history, and the majority of Lapham's Quarterly is dedicated to extracts of historical writings germane to the issue's theme.

A fine example in the City is the Athenian Pledge of Allegiance from 335 BC. Another has HL Mencken rhapsodizing about the beauties of San Francisco, though not before a scathing indictment of the cities of the east. Another entry comes from a letter from Hernan Cortes, describing Tenochtitlán.

This photograph of Bernard Hailstone painting in Blitz ruins is from the Art Archive / Imperial War Museum / Eileen Tweedy. Courtesy Lapham's Quarterly

This photograph of Bernard Hailstone painting in Blitz ruins is from the Art Archive / Imperial War Museum / Eileen Tweedy. Courtesy Lapham's Quarterly

Once you're through with your history lesson, Lapham includes essays from contemporary writers, the best of which comes from New Yorker writer George Packer. He posits that we westerners have essentially lost the ability to understand one of the great citys of literature: Dickens' London. But those who inhabit the teeming metropolises of the developing world might just have a better view of things. He travels from Singapore to Lagos, Nigeria in the essay, and it's a splendid take on Dickens' imagination of London, and one that equates the dirty, striving metropolis of English literature with those in the third world.

Recently we at Dwell did an issue on Megacities, and if that was at all inspiring, pick up the current issue of Lapham's Quarterly.

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