A Skeptic among Scholars: August Frugé on University Publishing

A Skeptic among Scholars: August Frugé on University Publishing

A Skeptic among Scholars: August Frugé on University Publishing

A Skeptic among Scholars: August Frugé on University Publishing

Synopsis

When August Frugé joined the University of California Press in 1944, it was part of the University's printing department, publishing a modest number of books a year, mainly monographs by UC faculty members. When he retired as director 32 years later, the Press had been transformed into one of the largest, most distinguished university presses in the country, publishing more than 150 books annually in fields ranging from ancient history to contemporary film criticism, by notable authors from all over the world. August Frugé's memoir provides an exciting intellectual and topical story of the building of this great press. Along the way, it recalls battles for independence from the University administration, the Press's distinctive early style of book design, and many of the authors and staff who helped shape the Press in its formative years.

Excerpt

About one hundred years ago, when the old century was running to a close, as ours is now, when Sam Clemens was about to lose his shirt in a publishing venture and Sam Farquhar was three years old—both are part of what follows— the young and small University of California put up the sum of $1,000 to start a publishing program. a third Sam of this story, the diarist Samuel Pepys, had been in his grave for 190 years.

In 1868, shortly after the Civil War, or War Between the States, the new University had opened its doors to students. the first elected president, who declined to serve, was George B. McClellan, the Union general; the first faculty member hired was John LeConte, once an officer in the Confederate Army. in 1873 the University moved from Oakland to the open hillsides of Berkeley. Before the seventies were out there was a printing plant and, beginning in 1885, an editorial committee to oversee catalogues and announcements. the first scholarly publications were issued in 1893, a few months after the initial appropriation was made. Editing and production, it seems, were done more quickly then than they are now.

The first two scholarly authors were Andrew C. Lawson, a young professor of geology, and Milicent W. Shinn, a graduate student who wrote on child development. They turned out monographs, not books, although Shinn’s work could have made a book had anyone been bookminded at the time. the Press of those days—meaning a faculty committee chaired by the University president—was firmly monograph-

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