Roundtable

Lewis Lapham Reads “A Pig for All Seasons”

A 1986 Harper’s Magazine story becomes reality.

By Lapham’s Quarterly

Monday, January 30, 2017

Gloucester Old Spot, 1834, by John Miles.Gloucester Museums Service Art Collection.

A recent New York Times story announces a bold new scientific discovery: the ability to create hybrid human-pig embryos that could someday allow for the growing (and harvesting) of swine organs for implantation in human bodies:

The human-organ-growing pigs would be examples of chimeras, animals composed of two different genomes. They would be generated by implanting human stem cells into an early pig embryo, resulting in an animal composed of mixed pig and human cells.

As it happens, Lewis Lapham predicted this very development in “A Pig for All Seasons,” first published in Harper’s Magazine nearly two decades ago. The fantastical story, now more real than ever, details the rise of the humble pig to the upper echelons of New York society, where it will serve as both companion and bodily insurance policy. Interested in the particulars? Let Lewis read you the tale himself.