The BackShop Journal

A Web Magazine of Arts, Culture and Orthodox Christian Spirituality


The Backshop Journal got its name from a quote by Michel de Montaigne, the 16th-century French essayist, who reinvented the genre and coined its name (essai (Fr.) - test, trial, attempt, experiment). In one of his early essays, "On Solitude," he writes:

Il faut avoir femmes, enfants, biens, et surtout de la santé, qui peut ; mais non pas s’y attacher en manière que notre heur en dépende : il se faut réserver une arrière-boutique, toute nôtre, toute franche, en laquelle nous établissions notre vraie liberté et principale retraite et solitude. 

(Wives, children, and goods must be had, and especially health, by him that can get it; but we are not so to set our hearts upon them that our happiness must have its dependence upon them; we must reserve a backshop, wholly our own and entirely free, wherein to settle our true liberty, our principal solitude and retreat.)

Montaigne established his "backshop," the room in which he meditated and created, in one of the towers of his castle near Bordeaux, but his recommendation inspired generations of writers and hermits. By "backshop" he meant a safe haven from the hustle, stress, injustice and hypocrisy of this world, a kind of voluntary internal exile. Backshop also represents a place in which one can collect his thoughts and embark on the inspiring journey of creation. Finally, it means a discovery of one's self that can lead to the understanding of the world, the laws by which it is governed and, ultimately, to the revelation of the Creator within oneself.

This site was created out of a long desire to publish a magazine by participating in every step of the production. Meanwhile, the media have changed, and the internet, although with many new, virtual possibilities, has brought with it addiction and impatience of the public. The Back Shop Journal is trying to adapt to the circumstances of the growing competition and market oversaturation by staying true to its original vision and intentions.

Featured Article
Voltaire and the Battle for Religious Tolerance
François-Marie Arouet (1694-1778), better known by his nom de plume Voltare, was one of the intellectual driving forces that lead to the French Revolution (1789-1799). A writer, historian and philosopher of the French Enlightenment, he is famous for his attacks on the established Catholic Church and...
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