Thursday, July 05, 2007

The Hippocratic Oath and Call Girl Lit

Also in today's blog

A writer as well as a doctor?
The grit in the oyster : More re Monday's blog about Hurst v Headline
Danuta Kean on The Squalid Truth About Call Girl Lit

I'm sure I don't need to explain why Mr Bookworm and I were discussing the Hippocratic Oath yesterday. Later I looked it up.

"The Hippocratic Oath is an oath traditionally taken by physicians pertaining to the ehtical practice of medicine. It is widely believed that the oath was written by Hippocrates, the father of medicine, in the 4th century BC, or by one of his students … Although mostly of historical and traditional value, the oath is considered a rite of passage for practitioners of medicine, although it is not obligatory and no longer taken up by all physicians."

"Changed portions of the oath: Never to do deliberate harm to anyone for anyone else's interest. Physician organizations in the U.S. and most other countries have strongly denounced physician participation in legal executions. However, in a small number of nations, most notably the Netherlands, a doctor can perform euthanasia, by both his and the patient's consent.

Several parts of the oath have been removed or re-shaped over the years in various countrie, schools, and societies as the social, religious, and political importance of medicine has changed. Most schools administer some form of oath, but the great majority no longer use the ancient version, which praised Greek deities, advocated teaching of men, and forbade general practitioners from surgery, abortion, and euthanasia. Also missing from the ancient Oath and from many modern versions are the complex ethical issues that face the modern physician."

A writer as well as a doctor?

I wasn't sure if Hippocrates was a writer as well as a doctor. His name is used by Hippocrates Publishing and at Harvard University's site, I read "The works available in the Loeb Classical Library edition of Hippocrates are the following … Of the roughly 70 works in the 'Hippocratic Collection' many are not by Hippocrates; even the famous oath may not be his. But he was undeniably the 'Father of Medicine'."

The Loeb Classical Library is a registered trademark of the Presidents and Fellows of Harvard College.

The grit in the oyster : More re Monday's blog about Hurst v Headline

Essential reading for anyone interested in the publishing industry are two pieces about the late Christopher Hurst about whom I wrote on Monday. The following are short extracts. Do read them in full.

Under the heading The Grit in the Oyster, Giles de la Mare starts his tribute with –

"For Christopher Hurst, small was beautiful and that was a leitmotiv in his life as a successful publisher, C. Hurst & Co, over forty years. In the late 1970s he emerged as a champion of small publishers in general — and an inspiration to them — and a champion of democracy in the occasionally murky world of publishing politics. Which was where I first met him, when I was a director of Faber. We were soon to become friends. We were both on the University, College and Professional Publishers Council of the Publishers Association, and he was still on the Council when I became Chairman in the early 1980s. Subsequently, we were both elected to the Council of the PA. His passion, his analytical powers and his unshakable integrity were a potent mixture when it appeared to him, as it did quite frequently right into the new millennium, that Machiavellian deals were being done between the big conglomerates, or crucial book trade issues were being neglected. He was the necessary grit in the oyster of complacency and expediency that is sometimes found in the book world. I greatly valued his judgement and his polemical approach, even when I thought his arguments were over the top."

Julian Rea wrote an obituary for The Bookseller.

"Four years ago, Christopher was diagnosed with cancer. He was admitted to hospitals and hospices several times in the expectation of imminent death—only to reappear at his desk a few weeks later, brushing aside the concerns of his friends and colleagues. He had a strong sense of unfinished business—the house of Hurst.

Born into a distinguished medical family and educated at Eton and Oxford, Christopher’s passion was publishing books. In a trade world dominated at the top by the listed corporations and elsewhere by subject and market niche specialists, it was a major achievement to remain afloat as a publisher of general and academic interest for forty years. Hurst & Co. grew modestly. It never made large profits, or, indeed, large losses. Its purpose was not to make money but to provide a quality list of abiding, often specialist, interest."

In case you didn't read Monday's blog, I quoted a letter Christopher Hurst wrote to The Bookseller in July 2005. Here's part of that quote –

"The news that John Murray is being restructured by its new owners, Headline, to publish "high quality commercial fiction [a possible contradiction in terms here?], aimed primarily at the female market" should induce feelings of nausea combined with rage in any member of the publishing community with a sense of propriety, not to mention history. Why keep the illustrious John Murray name if they only want to prostitute it? This crime against the light is not unprecedented; those who acquired the also greatly honoured name of André Deutsch did the same."

I wonder how he would have reacted to the jacket of a book published by John Murray last month?

Danuta Kean on The Squalid Truth About Call Girl Lit

Arts journalist and publishing commentator Danuta Kean [link in sidebar] has written a strong piece about call girl lit on her blog.

Many people will feel that sleeping around a k a promiscuity is not a life-style that should be promoted by reputable publishers, especially by imprints once associated with all that is best in publishing.


At 05 July, 2007, Blogger Richard Havers said...

Both publishers and prostitutes keep a keen eye on turnover and on profits.

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