Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
No Cover Image

Skeptic Among Scholars: August Frugé on University Publishing

Copyright Date: 1993
Edition: 1
Pages: 365
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Skeptic Among Scholars
    Book Description:

    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.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-91441-4
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. xi-xii)
  4. 1 Fin de Siècle End and Beginning
    (pp. 1-6)

    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...

  5. 2 Berkeley in the 1940s The Place and How I Came to Be There
    (pp. 7-20)

    When I came back to Berkeley in the fall of 1944 the country was still at war, but the city had not yet taken up arms against the rest of the nation nor had it seen fit to adopt its own foreign policy. These adventures lay a couple of decades in the future. Berkeley was then, as when I lived there in the late thirties, a college and commuter town, where passionate commitments were more intellectual and personal than political. It was sometimes called a city of eccentric professors and of little old ladies in tennis shoes, up-ended in the...

  6. 3 The University Press in the 1940s Recto and Verso
    (pp. 21-36)

    When you walked into the Press building—then home of the combined Press and printing department, now housing only the latter—to the left of the high lobby were the administrative offices, where Hazel Niehaus presided over several people in the large outer room. In 1944 she had worked for the printing plant and Press for twenty-four years, and she had another twenty-five to go, the last few for the Press alone. Past her desk and straight ahead was Farquhar’s corner office and to the right that of V. J. McHenry, whose title was superintendent of the plant but whose...

  7. 4 An Unavoidable Conflict
    (pp. 37-46)

    When Dorothy Bevis came back from the Coast Guard, she decided not to return to the Press but to seek a career in librarianship, thus reversing the move I had made. Eventually she taught for many years at the University of Washington. And at my urging Sam Farquhar sought another sales manager, finding a young man in southern California, Thompson Webb, Jr., a Princeton graduate just back from service in the navy. Tom had been slated to succeed his father as headmaster of the Webb School in Claremont, but he and his wife Diana thought they would rather try something...

  8. 5 How We Joined the Editorial Committee
    (pp. 47-65)

    By the time Clark Kerr ordered full separation of printing and publishing, he was recognizing afaitalmostaccompli. But how could the transformation have come about? We were not giant killers or clever politicians. We had no special credit with the old president, who sat back and let the fight go on. We ourselves were more stubborn than strong.

    In our days of weakness I came to see that we had one great weapon if we could bring it to bear—the power of faculty opinion in a university where the faculty was strong enough to challenge the administration....

  9. 6 A Kind of Metamorphosis
    (pp. 66-86)

    Our small war of independence, necessary as it was and desperate as it seemed at the time, was no more than a first step, or as Winston Churchill said of a larger matter, the end of the beginning. Its success, tentative in the early 1950s and definite by the end of the decade, left us with an opportunity, nothing more. What came next would be proof of the pudding, proof that had to be demonstrated quickly and would then need to be pursued for many years.

    So how does one go about converting President Wheeler’s old-style press into a modern...

  10. 7 Where to Look for Books Athens in Berkeley
    (pp. 87-103)

    In the early years of this century Jane K. Sather was left a considerable sum of money by her husband, a banker.¹ Living in Berkeley at a time when bankers were still honored there, she was generous to the local university, donating a granite bell tower, a bronze campus gate, and other things less monumental. Among these, and at President Wheeler’s suggestion, were two academic chairs, one in history and the other a visiting professorship in classical literature, broadly conceived.

    The first holders of that chair were invited to teach and not to write books. The very first of all—...

  11. 8 Looking to the South Many Americas
    (pp. 104-125)

    It is strange, some think, that peoples of the Americas tend to look east and west rather than north and south. About thirty years ago, when we first began to look for books from and about Latin America, this was plainly true; perhaps it still is. Often enough we have criticized ourselves for paying more attention to Europe and Asia than to the twenty or so countries to the south of us. But they too have looked to Europe for cultural ties, all the while complaining about the attitudes of their northern neighbor. Latin American intellectuals were, and still are,...

  12. 9 Looking West to the East Pel and the Asian Books
    (pp. 126-136)

    One day in the fifties, sometime after Phil Lilienthal became assistant director (later associate director) of the Press, he and I sat in my office discussing whether to make a concerted effort to build a publishing specialty in Asian books.¹ At that time we had almost nothing: a few odds and ends from the late forties and early fifties, things that had wandered in or imports offered by London publishers. Some were good books, but taken together they were odds and ends. Thus I don’t remember how we got acquainted with Charles Boxer, the great and unconventional English historian, whose...

  13. 10 Ishi, Don Juan, and the Anthropologists A Tale of Two Best-Sellers
    (pp. 137-156)

    At the beginning of this century, when the Press was only a few years old and the academic science of man—man asanthropos—was nearly as young, there were still Indian villages in California where daily life was carried on in the traditional way, where men and women spoke the Indian languages and remembered the history and myths of their people. What better could the first California anthropologists do than seek to understand and record this civilization before it was lost, as soon it would be? In the year 1900 a young man named Alfred Louis Kroeber, soon to...

  14. 11 Hollywood and Berkeley Getting into the Film Business
    (pp. 157-166)

    In the mid 1940s Sam Farquhar experienced a brief encounter with Hollywood. Out of this came a book,Writers’ Congress: Proceedings(1944), and a magazine,Hollywood Quarterly(1945–). The book lived its short life and expired, as symposia are apt to do. TheQuarterlyendured political troubles, survived, evolved, and then underwent a curious metamorphosis into something the progenitors had never intended. And in this new form it has spawned a long shelf of rather unHollywoodian books.

    The Writers’ Congress, out of which came the book, was held on the UCLA campus in October 1943 and was sponsored jointly...

  15. 12 London, 1660 and 1960 The Coded Words of Sam Pepys
    (pp. 167-184)

    At the time when I used to call on them, G. Bell & Sons were an old and old-fashioned family firm. Their publishing list was a motley collection of school books and practical books, graced only by the old Wheatley edition ofPepys’ Diaryand a group of books on chess. They had offices in a building they owned, called York House, on Portugal Street, just off Kings Way. Across the street, improbably enough, was the aggressively modern and left-thinking London School of Economics and the Economist Book Store. More in keeping, a few blocks away and passed when we went...

  16. 13 Nevada in the 1860s Sam Clemens
    (pp. 185-201)

    It seems unlikely that most textual critics of the Modern Language Association are acquainted with the town of Bodie in the eastern California desert, hard by Mono Lake and the Nevada state line. Nor do many of them know, I think, that textual editing in its American phase may have been born there.¹

    Bodie, like some other mining towns in the old west, was reputed to be an irreligious, riotous, and wicked place. In February 1879 a newspaper in neighboring Nevada reported that a little girl in San Jose, whose family was about to move to the wicked town, had...

  17. 14 In Any Language but English Poetry at the Press
    (pp. 202-215)

    The godfather—so to speak—of our literary translation list was an unemployed professor of English, whose first versions from Rilke had been published by the Press in 1940, shortly before he was thrown out of the University. There were a few earlier translations, but they were all single shots, leading to nothing further.¹ The Rilke too might have led nowhere had it not been for a fortuitous meeting several years later.

    Works of scholarly research make up the proper diet of a university press, but for those with a taste for books of imagination the meal goes down better...

  18. 15 The Poetry-Hating Director
    (pp. 216-220)

    To be published by the University Press a poet must write in any language other than English. So complained some English-writing poets on the University faculty, implying a strange kind of prejudice. That there was reason—of a kind, at least—behind such an unreasonable practice I shall attempt to show. And the claim was only partly true, as could be seen when we published the collected poems of Kenneth Burke, Louis Zukovsky, and others. We were restricting ourselves to classics and semi-classics, to works that had already made their reputation, and declining to compete with other houses for the...

  19. 16 A Few Pounds of Lit Crit
    (pp. 221-228)

    The angry professor asked: “Why do you publish only books about Ezra Pound in American literature?” This accusation of prejudice, more than the one about poetry in English, took me by surprise. I mentioned the huge Mark Twain series and books about Melville and Wharton by colleagues of the accuser. But the Twain, he said, was an editing project and the others were only two and were published quite some while before.¹ I could have mentioned, but did not, that my own personal taste happened to be more Proustian than Poundian—pure American that I am and, like Pound, born...

  20. 17 Mega Biblion Exposing the Press to Art History
    (pp. 229-244)

    Before there was art history there was art. Whether art will survive art history is a question for others to ponder.

    Art history, in its full scholarly manifestation, came late to the Press. Indeed it came late to American universities, at least to this one. In about 1938, when I was working in the University library in Berkeley, one task assigned me was to work with a young professor, recently come from Heidelberg, to build up a collection of books by art historians. Since we were buying basic and standard works, we must have been starting pretty much from scratch....

  21. 18 The Book as Artifact Design and Printing
    (pp. 245-273)

    Some years ago a great eastern university constructed a new library building, a tall and garish tower with pseudo-Gothic excrescences. The librarian, it is said, threatened to post a sign by the front door announcing, “The Library is on the inside.” As we have seen a few pages back, some readers have similar thoughts about books that are too imposing for their contents or too fancy.

    How should the frame relate to the picture, the package to the contents? Or should the physical book be considered a package? The publisher may assume so, but to devotees of the Art of...

  22. 19 Anybody Can Write a Book, but …
    (pp. 274-288)

    In that furniture store in Oregon in the Great Depression of the 1930s I learned about my talent as a salesman. To customers I could talk up the virtues of sofa or bed or washing machine, but they, the customers, usually got away without putting down cash or signing contracts. You have to “close” the sale, said the manager, before they get out the front door. So I went back to doing the office work with one hand and driving the delivery truck to distant farms and to mill towns across the river.

    There were other things to learn. My...

  23. 20 The Bird That Was Overdue for Evolution And Other Tales of the Financial Wars
    (pp. 289-313)

    I take it as a warning that some of my most intelligent friends do not get through their thick heads the rather obvious distinction between operating and capital accounts, between expensing an expense and capitalizing it. Nor do they always see that one may finish the year with a black figure on the bottom line while preserving a fine fat loss on the balance sheet. What is not understood becomes a bore. A warning, then, that I must go easy on financial explanations in the stories that follow even though financial needs—some of them desperate—lay close beneath actions...

  24. 21 Waiting for the God from the Machine
    (pp. 314-330)

    It is best to write about the past. The present overwhelms us with details, many of little consequence; we cannot see it for what it is. The young Fabrice del Dongo (if I remember aright) wandered all day through the fighting at Waterloo and when evening came had to ask passers-by who had won the battle.¹ And the future is boring; it has never been lived, has no substance, is no more than a wraith, a shadow, the idea of a woman without the flesh (male point of view). But the past—ah, the past! It is real, it is...

  25. 22 Earthquakes and Endings
    (pp. 331-332)

    Anyone canwritea book, said the sales manager. Anyone canstarta book, I would say, but not everyone can finish one.

    In his finest work the great author named in the very first sentence of this volume floated his two protagonists, white boy and black slave, down the long, wide river through adventures revealing, grotesque, and funny. After a thousand miles and more the journey came to an end, but the book did not. The book, in its book nature, could not just stop but hung there, needing an ending that would give the reader some sense of...

  26. ADDENDUM I God, Swahili, Bandicoots, and Euphoria
    (pp. 333-338)
    Hugh Kenner
  27. ADDENDUM II Publishing The Plan of St. Gall
    (pp. 339-354)
    James H. Clark
  28. Index
    (pp. 355-365)