Law and Literature: A Misunderstood Relation / Edition 2

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Hailed in its first edition as an "outstanding work, as stimulating as it is intellectually distinguished" (New York Times), Richard A. Posner's Law and Literature has handily lived up to the Washington Post's prediction that the book would "remain essential reading for many years to come." This new edition, extensively revised and enlarged, continues to emphasize the essential differences between law and literature, which are rooted in the different social functions of legal and literary texts. But it also explores areas of mutual illumination and expands its range to include new topics such as popular fiction about law, literary education for lawyers, the legal narrative movement, and judicial biography.

Literary works from classics by Sophocles, Shakespeare, Dostoevsky, Melville, Kafka, and Camus to contemporary fiction by William Gaddis, Tom Wolfe, and John Grisham come under Posner's scrutiny, as do recent attempts to apply the techniques of literary analysis to statutes, judicial opinions, and the Constitution. In a section entirely new in this edition, Posner discusses the increasing efforts of legal scholars to enrich their scholarship by borrowing the methods and insights of literature—even by insisting that legal education is incomplete without the ethical insights afforded by an immersion in literature.

Thoroughly rewritten and updated, free of legal and literary jargon, and informed by Posner's extensive erudition and legal experience, this book remains the most clear, acute, and comprehensive account of the intersection of law and literature—"a wonderfully original and instructive study of what literature has to teach us about the law, the methods of legal argument, and the interpretation of statutes and the Constitution" (Wall Street Journal).

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Editorial Reviews

Christian Science Monitor
A book filled with keen judgment, shrewd common sense, and great erudition worn gracefully. Posner's command of his materials--literature, law, and the bodies of commentary and scholarship attached to each--is truly impressive. Still more so is his ability to make the issues vividly clear to the average reader.
— Merle Rubin
New York Times
An outstanding work, as stimulating as it is intellectually distinguished...Not only are [Posner's] arguments readily grasped, and driven home with an exhilarating forensic skill; in pursuing them, he is also compelled to define his own positions more sharply.
— John Gross
Times Literary Supplement
As Richard Posner reports, the first edition of [this] book is the most frequently assigned or recommended non-fiction work in 'law and literature' classes. Yet he thinks we tend to overrate the connections between the two, and certainly overrate the benefit to lawyers of exposure to literary texts and literary-critical ways of proceeding...His fair-minded presentation of the arguments is a good introduction to many...of the controversies that comprise the field of inquiry.
— Anthony Julius,
Wall Street Journal
A wonderfully original and instructive study of what literature has to teach about the law, the methods of legal argument, and the interpretation of statutes and the Constitution...Posner's adversaries are hopelessly outmatched in these arguments, but they are only supporting characters in a larger and more interesting drama--Mr. Posner's own exegesis of the relation of literature to law propounded in a series of arresting, brilliantly interwoven interpretations of dozens of literary works.
— Christopher DeMuth
Weekly Journal of the Law Society(UK)
The law and literature movement, which is currently gaining momentum on US campuses, argues that lawyers can benefit from studying the literary merits of legal documents and from reading works of literature which deal with law...[The] movement is now courting controversy with suggestions that the Anglo-American legal system is intrinsically biased both sexually and racially. Some proponents claim trials should be radically restructured along narrative, rather than adversarial principles, and that this would allow marginalised voices to be heard. Richard A. Posner, chief judge of the US Court of Appeals for the seventh circuit, is sceptical about these arguments. His book is a sensible and forthright introduction to the law and literature movement, which enlightens without blinding.
— Jessica Smerin
Wall Street Journal
"A wonderfully original and instructive study of what literature has to teach us about the law, the methods of legal argument, and hte interpretation of statutes and the Constition."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674514713
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 3/28/1998
  • Edition description: Revised and Enlarged Edition
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 432
  • Product dimensions: 6.16 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 1.35 (d)

Meet the Author

Richard A. Posner is Circuit Judge, the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, and a senior lecturer at the University of Chicago Law School.

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Table of Contents

Introduction 1
I Literary Texts as Legal Texts
1 The Reflection of Law in Literature 11
2 Revenge as Legal Prototype and Literary Genre 49
3 The Antinomies of Legal Theory 93
4 The Limits of Literary Jurisprudence 127
5 The Literary Indictment of Legal Injustice 148
6 Two Legal Perspectives on Kafka 182
II Legal Texts as Literary Texts
7 Interpreting Contracts, Statutes, and Constitutions 209
8 Judicial Opinions as Literature 255
III The Literary Turn in Legal Scholarship
9 The Edifying School of Legal Scholarship 305
10 Lies like Truth? Narrative Legal Scholarship 345
IV The Regulation of Literature by Law
11 Authorship, Creativity, and the Law 381
Index 413
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