Hottentot Venus

The Curious in Ecstasy or Shoelaces, by Louis François Charon, 1815. Satire of English fascination with South African-born Saartjie Baartman who was exhibited under the name Hottentot Venus. The British Museum, London.


Volume VIII, Number 1 | winter 2015



By Lewis H. Lapham

When we talk about the foreign, the question becomes one of us versus them. But in the end, is one just the opposite side of the other? 



While minister to France in 1778, Benjamin Franklin met Voltaire at the Academy of the Sciences. On hand was John Adams, who wrote that “neither of our philosophers seemed to divine what was wished or expected” of them by the crowd. Eventually, the two embraced and kissed each other on the cheek, an act that Nicolas de Condorcet said provoked such enthusiastic approval that “it was said to be Solon who embraced Sophocles.”

Nothing is more narrow-minded than chauvinism or racial hatred. To me all men are equal; there are flatheads everywhere and I despise them all equally.

- Karl Kraus, 1909


LQ Podcast

#56 Doris Kearns Goodwin

The Pulitzer Prize–winning historian speaks with Lewis Lapham about her latest book, The Bully Pulpit. More