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.”

One of the most time-consuming things is to have an enemy.

—E.B. White, 1958


The World in Time

Holger Hoock

Lewis H. Lapham talks with Holger Hoock, author of Scars of Independence: America’s Violent Birth, at a New York Public Library event.  More