Law and Literature
Law and Literature
The subject of law and literature has been a recognized field of study in universities and law schools since the 1970s. Since its inception it has been, and still continues to be, to some extent, a controversial union of disciplines. Almost everyone involved in the discussion—lawyers, students, literary critics, and ordinary readers—agree that there is a relationship between the fields of literature and the law, or jurisprudence. The exact nature of the relationship and the degree to which the two areas can or should influence one another continues to be a much debated issue.
Many critics and legal scholars agree that both literature and the law are based on language, and so share a common tradition. Both fields depend on narrative—on the idea of telling a story for either fictional or legal purposes. Also, argumentation and internal logic are crucial to both a good piece of fiction and a well-presented law case. Many scholars—for example, Ian Ward, Bruce L. Rockwood, and Gregg D. Crane—also point out that practitioners in both fields can benefit from a study of rhetoric, a deeper understanding of language, and an understanding of the interdisciplinary nature of law and literature. The debate becomes sharpened when the study of law and literature is divided into its two branches—law in literature and law as literature. Those scholars who engage in writing about law in literature emphasize the usefulness to the legal profession of reading certain works of literature that either centrally or peripherally deal with legal issues, and so potentially enrich the cultural context of the law. The other approach to the field, law as literature, is much more controversial. Some legal and literary scholars suggest that there are intellectual benefits to be derived from approaching legal texts as if they were literary criticism; using a deconstructive approach, for instance, law students can arrive at an understanding of the legal text's internal contradictions, biases, and faulty logic that can sharpen their intellectual and legal acumen. But critics of the law as literature approach point out that the fields are diametrically opposed: literature is dramatic and therefore concerned with developing conflict, whereas the purpose of law is conflict resolution. Richard A. Posner, one of the critics of the approach, has emphasized this essential difference and has also stressed that literary works deal with the law only metaphorically and not as a central concern. Because the two disciplines form divergent contexts, there is only a limited benefit to be derived from parallel study of law and literature. Posner has written, “Law is a complex set of rules and institutions from which a writer can borrow but which does not lend itself to being imitated.” Others still, for example Daniel J. Kornstein, have warned that the whole field is in danger of becoming too academic and abstract and that the study of law and literature will only provide a benefit if practitioners of law continue to be engaged with literature on an everyday level.
Literary critics have written much about the role of law in literature, especially in such works as Franz Kafka's Der Prozess (1925; The Trial) and Albert Camus's L'Etranger (1942; The Stranger). They have also explored fictional works that offer a direct and pointed critique of an aspect of the law—for instance, E. M. Forster's A Passage to India (1924), Charles Dickens's Bleak House (1852-53), and Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels (1726). But more often, they have written about various reactions to the law in literature, ranging in scope from Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter (1850), to the plays of Bertold Brecht, to John Updike's novel S. (1988), and to the contemporary plays of Alice Childress and August Wilson.
M. M. Bakhtin
Tvorchestvo Fransua Rable i narodnaia kul'tura srednevekov'ia i Renessansa [Rabelais and His World] (criticism) 1965
Floating Opera (novel) 1956
Der kaukasische Kreidekreis [The Caucasian Chalk Circle] (play) 1954
L'Etranger [The Stranger; also published as The Outsider] (novel) 1942
Wedding Band (novel) 1973
Don De Lillo
White Noise (novel) 1985
Bleak House (novel) 1852-53
E. M. Forster
A Passage to India (novel) 1924
A Frolic of His Own (novel) 1994
The Late Bourgeois World (novel) 1966
The Firm (novel) 1991
The Client (novel) 1993
The Scarlet Letter (novel) 1850
In der Strafkolonie [“In the Penal Colony”] (short story) 1919
Der Prozess [The Trial] (novel) 1925
Soudce a smeti [Judge on Trial] (novel) 1991
Billy Budd, Sailor (novella) 1924
Jenseits von Gut und...
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Criticism: Overviews And General Studies
SOURCE: Ward, Ian. “Law and Literature: A Continuing Debate.” In Law and Literature: Possibilities and Perspectives, pp. 3-27. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995.
[In the following essay, Ward summarizes the history and evolution of the scholarly debate regarding law and literature, noting key ideas and critics.]
Students seek out good teaching to learn not the rules but the culture, for the rules are everywhere the same.1
The purpose of this introductory chapter is essentially synoptic. Indeed there is a very tangible sense in which, after more than a decade of the renewed law and literature ‘debate’, it seems appropriate to a number of the debaters to look back and take stock.2 This is not to suggest any running out of ideas or cooling in the heat of debate, but rather, as both Brook Thomas and Richard Posner have recently suggested, because law and literature is becoming increasingly ‘serious’.3 It is now sixteen years since Allen Smith predicted the ‘coming renaissance in law and literature’, and an ancillary purpose of this first chapter is, then, not only to examine the various positions taken in the ‘debate’, but also to impress its enduring strength.4 The familiar distinction taken in law and literature studies is between ‘law in literature’, and ‘law as...
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SOURCE: Ward, Ian. “Law and Justice in the Modern Novel: The Concept of Responsibility.” In Law and Literature: Possibilities and Perspectives, pp. 142-56. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995.
[In the following essay, Ward explores Kafka's The Trial and Camus's The Outsider as texts useful in the literary and legal study of the concept of responsibility.]
There is no doubt that modern literature has been more extensively used by law and literature scholars than any other literary source. It does not, then, represent a particularly new perspective. There are, of course, certain contemporary ‘modern’ texts which are fresh, and I will look at a couple of these in the final two chapters of this book. However, in this chapter I want briefly to provide an example of how modern literature can be used as a means of accessing certain key concepts in contemporary critical theory and critical legal scholarship. The concept which I shall consider in this chapter is responsibility.
RESPONSIBILITY IN MODERN LITERATURE
Two texts which have proved to be particularly popular in law and literature scholarship are Kafka's The Trial and Camus's The Outsider. The specific concept of responsibility, however, has not received any especial notice. Richard Weisberg used Camus's novels as representative of Nietzschean...
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SOURCE: Rockwood, Bruce L. “Introduction: On Doing Law and Literature.” In Law and Literature Perspectives, edited by Bruce L. Rockwood, pp. 2-38. New York: Peter Lang, 1996.
[In the following essay, Rockwood surveys recent critical approaches to the study of law and literature and suggests that the two disciplines together can be helpful in understanding the moral complexities of the postmodern world.]
Despite its deep roots in culture and civilization, in the last decade of the twentieth century law and literature is still a relatively new and emerging field of study.1 It is a distinct discipline, and a true “interdiscipline,” involving fundamental issues from the humanities,2 the social sciences, and even the natural sciences.3 It is full of ferment and vitality, whether in writing,4 scholarly debate,5 or the classroom.6 There are many questions to ask within a law and literature framework, many texts to examine, and few clearly right or wrong answers. It is the purpose of this volume to provide an introduction to the field, and to permit scholars and educators from a variety of perspectives to explore what it means to do law and literature.
THE EMERGING DISCIPLINE
The law and literature movement has progressed rapidly since the early 1970's, when James Boyd White's The Legal...
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SOURCE: Crane, Gregg D. “The Path of Law and Literature.” American Literary History 9, no. 4 (winter 1997): 758-75.
[In the following essay, Crane discusses the extent to which literature and law interact and are capable of influencing each other and evaluates three recent studies of that subject.]
In the Library of Congress's small collection of Chief Justice Roger B. Taney's papers, I recently happened upon the fragmentary beginnings of an essay on slavery and antebellum sectional hostility. Apparently written on the eve of the Civil War, the anonymous author laments the election of Abraham Lincoln and condemns “free state aggression” upon the nation's proslavery Constitution. The essayist attributes the constitutional crisis to the North's dissemination of “political hate” in its schoolrooms, pulpits, and “a novel of a character well calculated to raise the morbid thought of fanatics, which portrayed in pictures of exaggeration the evils of slavery” (“Fragment” 3).
This reference to Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin is somewhat startling. It is as though the professional curtain of procedure, precedent, and deduction typically veiling judicial reasoning had been momentarily drawn aside to expose a jurist's outrage at an unwelcome literary revision of constitutional jurisprudence. After reading these bitter notes, one sees Taney's obsessive...
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SOURCE: Kornstein, Daniel J. “A Practicing Lawyer Looks Back on Law and Literature.” Cardozo Studies in Law and Literature 10, no. 2 (winter 1998): 117-19.
[In the following essay, Kornstein presents a brief summary of literature and law study over the past two decades, emphasizing that the future of the discipline lies in engaging the interest of actual practitioners of law.]
Law and Literature has much to be proud of. In two decades or so, it has grown from an abstract idea to a contemporary school of jurisprudence. It has started to permeate the legal consciousness. It is taught in colleges as well as law schools. It has produced an expanding body of writing that is probing, controversial, and fascinating. It has drawn people to many conferences and symposia, some of them international. Special journals devoted to Law and Literature, such as this one, have sprouted up and continue to flourish. Wonderful accomplishments these are, especially for a fledgling intellectual movement, but they are not enough.
The greatest shortcoming in Law and Literature to date has been its failure to reach and engage the ordinary practicing lawyer. For the most part, Law and Literature has remained firmly entrenched in legal academia, its realm of origin. The shirt-sleeve lawyer is essentially untouched. If Law and Literature is to thrive the way it should, this situation must be changed....
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SOURCE: Posner, Richard A. “The Reflection of Law in Literature.” In Law and Literature, revised and enlarged edition, pp. 11-48. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1998.
[In the following essay, Posner argues, citing numerous examples of fiction that encompass legal issues, that the law figures in literary works as a metaphor rather than as the center of thematic interest.]
Law is so common a subject of literature that one is tempted to infer a deep affinity between the two fields, giving the lawyer privileged access if not to the whole body of literature then at least to those works that are explicitly about law. But I shall argue that the frequency of legal subjects in literature is partly a statistical artifact and that law figures in literature more often as metaphor than as an object of interest in itself, even when the author is a lawyer (like Kafka) or a law “buff” (like Melville). This is in general, however, not in every case. Moreover, the validity of the generalization depends on the precise sense in which the word “law” is used—and also the word “literature.”
In matters of aesthetic judgment, even more than in other normative discourse, there is no “objective” procedure for resolving disagreements. The strongest defender of the possibility of reasoning to consensus on difficult political and moral...
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SOURCE: Dolin, Kieran. “The Modern Western Nomos.” In Fiction and the Law: Legal Discourse in Victorian and Modernist Literature, pp. 21-44. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999.
[In the following essay, Dolan explores the cultural and philosophical context which enabled a connection between literature and law in the post-Enlightenment European tradition.]
The study of fictional representations of law demands a contextual criticism. In this chapter I attempt to establish this context for the subsequent analysis of my chosen novels by presenting a short account of the intellectual and social history of European law since the eighteenth century. The ultimate aim is not to supply a mere background for critical analysis, but to enable the novels themselves to be read as texts in the cultural history of the modern nomos. For Cover, every normative world is specific to the culture which gives birth to it. The “thickness of legal meaning” in every society must be comprehended before its juridical practices can be properly understood.1 In the following essay in the “thick description” of modern, Western law I aim to establish what Dominick LaCapra calls a “viable interaction between the forms of literature and forms of life” in the post-Enlightenment era and to establish some specific connections between these developments and formal and thematic changes in the...
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Criticism: Fiction Critiquing The Law
SOURCE: Lin, Wen-Chi. “Law and (Anti-)Colonialism in A Passage to India.” Tamkang Review 25, no. 3-4 (spring-summer 1995): 362-75.
[In the following essay, Lin discusses the role of the central legal case in A Passage to India in terms of Forster's depiction of the “oftentimes self-contradictory role law plays in the colonial context.”]
E. M. Forster's A Passage to India has not been a novel known for its observation of colonial politics. Critical attentions have been drawn more to issues of its aesthetic form like structure and language, reflecting the dominant critical trend of the New Criticism, Structuralism, and Deconstruction as the history of criticism has developed. Those scholars who do pay attention to the issue of colonialism are generally dissatisfied with its depiction of India under the British Raj. Although they generally give credit to Forster's criticism on the British colonial officers, they find the novel subscribed to certain colonial ideologies. Benita Parry, for one, argues that A Passage to India lacks “a consciousness of imperialism as capitalism's expansionist, conquering moment, and the enunciated critique of the Raj is consequently toned down” because of its conditions of production (29). Harsher critics fault Forster with depicting India as an inexplicable “Other,” symbolized by the “nothingness” or “hollowness” of the...
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SOURCE: Pencak, William. “Swift Justice: Gulliver's Travels as a Critique of Legal Institutions.” In Law and Literature Perspectives, edited by Bruce L. Rockwood, pp. 255-67. New York: Peter Lang, 1996.
[In the following essay, Pencak comments on Swift's Gulliver's Travels as a critique of English legal injustices but emphasizes that neither anger nor utopian thinking prove useful for Gulliver, but only working within the realities of the present system.]
Gulliver's Travels ends with a paradox. Gulliver wrote the book for the Publick Good, the only words so capitalized in the entire text, “for who can read the virtues I have mentioned in the glorious Houyhnhnms, without being ashamed of his own Vices, when he considers himself as the reasoning, governing Animal of his Country” (256).1 Yet the man who would have his countrymen imitate these exemplars can stand neither the sight nor the stench of his loving family, can barely tolerate the civilized sea-captain who rescues him, prefers a solitary life with his horses—“degenerate” Houyhnhnms—to avoid the “Yahoos” of England, and tells us that “I have now done with all such visionary Schemes for ever” of “so absurd a Project as that of reforming the Yahoo Race” (vii). Just as the Houyhnhnms determine to abolish the Yahoos, only debating whether to do it at once or to adopt the “juster” method of...
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SOURCE: Dolin, Kieran. “Reformist Critique in the Mid-Victorian ‘Legal Novel’—Bleak House.” In Fiction and the Law: Legal Discourse in Victorian and Modernist Literature, pp. 71-96. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999.
[In the following essay, Dolin focuses on Dickens's criticism of the court of Chancery and its inheritance laws as exhibited in Bleak House.]
A reviewer of the first number of Bleak House anticipated that Jarndyce and Jarndyce would “doubtless be a famous cause—and take its future place beside the Common Pleas case of Bardell v Pickwick in the Law Reports of Fiction.”1 This prediction has proved true in the long term.2 When the serialization of the novel was completed, the same reviewer criticized Dickens for failing “to keep the mighty mystery of Iniquity and Equity perpetually before the reader,” and for giving, instead, “the first concern and sympathy … to Lady Dedlock's secret.”3 These remarks provide a compact starting-point for a critical and historical discussion of the representation of law in Bleak House. In the first section of this chapter I explore the mid-Victorian evolution of a subgenre based on “the Law Reports of Fiction,” and argue that although Bleak House emerged from this generic field, its critique of the English legal system and nomos is more profound than that...
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SOURCE: Dolin, Kieran. “Freedom, Uncertainty, and Diversity—The Critique of Imperialist Law in A Passage to India.” In Fiction and the Law: Legal Discourse in Victorian and Modernist Literature, pp. 169-92. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999.
[In the following essay, Dolin explores A Passage to India as Forster's critique of British imperialist law and specifically of the policy of “Anglicization.”]
English law and English literature were closely, yet variously connected during Britain's imperial domination of India. Anglo-Indians—the English who lived and worked in India—have been enrolled in the “configuration of law and letters” traced throughout this study: the first English judge at Calcutta was the poet and Oriental linguist, Sir William Jones; the nineteenth-century administrator, Sir Alfred Lyall, was a poet and critic. Both men were admired by E. M. Forster, not only for their literary avocations, but for their interest in Indian culture, a rare combination in Anglo-India:
after two hundred years of political connexion with India, we in England know next to nothing about the Indian cultures. … We have sent our soldiers and administrators. … but few scholars and fewer artists. … It is unwise to suppose that culture is unimportant … What attempt has been made by our rulers to promote Oriental scholarship and to...
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Criticism: Literary Responses To The Law
SOURCE: “John Updike's S.” Tamkang Review 25, no. 3-4 (spring-summer 1995): 379-405.
[In the following essay, the critic examines the relationship between sex and the law as treated by Hawthorne and Updike in their respective novels The Scarlet Letter and S.]
In John Updike's S. (1988), set in 1986 America, there are passages and characters pointedly reminding the reader of its intertextual relationship to Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter (1850),1 which has as its setting 17th-century Puritan Boston. The epigraphs of the novel, to begin with, are drawn from the masterpiece by Hawthorne. The first epigraph is about Hester Prynne emerging from prison for a public display on the scaffold. In it, the heroine of SL is depicted as having “dark and abundant hair” and a face beautiful from “richness of complexion.” The attempt at linking Sarah Price Worth, the heroine of S., to Hester Prynne, is most clear when the former describes herself in letters, again and again, as a charming lady with “dark hair and rich complexion.”2 To avoid escaping the reader's notice, it is so arranged that Sarah's daughter is also called Pearl, and the mother addresses the daughter repeatedly as “myself-child.” The name and the epithet, to be sure, advance considerably their association. Other obvious analogies can be found in the physician...
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SOURCE: Billingslea-Brown, Alma Jean. “The ‘Blight of Legalized Limitation’ in Alice Childress's Wedding Band.” In Law and Literature Perspectives, edited by Bruce Rockwood, pp. 39-51. New York: Peter Lang, 1996.
[In the following essay, Billingslea-Brown explores the effect of anti-miscegenation laws in the framework of social repression of Blacks through established legal mechanisms.]
Between American jurisprudence and literary expression by African Americans, there is multifaceted relationship, one that has at its center questions of freedom and identity. It may be argued, in fact, that the impulse to creative expression by African Americans arises, in part, from the need to legitimize the human and cultural identity of the African on American soil.1 In the legal history of the United States, that collective human identity, from the colonial period to Dred Scott and Jim Crow, has been constructed in particular ways.
Without doubt, there have been seminal instances where law for people of African origin and descent has been an instrument for constructive social change. More frequently, law has been, as Haywood Burns asserts, the vehicle by which generalized racism was made particular and converted into standards and policies of subjugation and social control (1973, 157). African American literature has offered a critique of that control, interrogating and...
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SOURCE: Barsky, Robert F. “Bakhtin as Anarchist? Language, Law, and Creative Impulses in the Work of Mikhail Bakhtin and Rudolf Rocker.” South Atlantic Quarterly 97, no. 3 (summer-fall 1998): 623-42.
[In the following essay, Barsky comments on Bakhtin's theory of the implicit relationship between language, anarchy, and natural law presented in the framework of personal freedom.]
The various directions toward which Bakhtin studies are presently moving suggests that whatever the differences from one scholar to another, there remains a nagging question in much Bakhtinian work: What else can be done with Bakhtin? This is not, or should not be, a purely academic concern; indeed, it may be because Bakhtin's work is so obviously applicable to concerns beyond tenure-article production that it is so frequently asked. My suggestion would be to take him at his radical word and bring his ideas to bear upon this crucial moment in the inglorious history of the twentieth century. Whatever claims made to the contrary by increasingly self-satisfied corporate elites whose wealth has been growing by leaps and bounds even as the well-being of the majority throughout the world continues to decline, we are in desperate need of useful political alternatives and the ways of thinking thereabout that Bakhtin could offer. This is not to say that we ought to straitjacket theoretical works with undue political...
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SOURCE: Low, Andrew. “Bernard Williams, Moral Law, and Kafka's Der Prozess.” Symposium: A Quarterly Journal of Modern Foreign Literatures 52, no. 3 (fall 1998): 142-54.
[In the following essay, Low focuses on Kafka's depiction of justice and morality in The Trial, suggesting that his notion of it is a complex, nuanced one not easily summarized by modern critics.]
It would be inaccurate to label as “postmodern” Bernard Williams's criticisms, written in the last several decades, of the major Western traditions of philosophical ethics—inaccurate, but not altogether misleading. Without rejecting as necessarily ideological any competence claims of reason, and without forswearing all attempts to ground a view of ethics in a rational (for him, this will ultimately mean scientific) study of human beings and their social worlds, he nevertheless provides a highly solvent critique of the most familiar attempts of Western reason to establish a unified discipline of ethics. In its place, he introduces a loose aggregation of considerations, centrifugal to the point of disintegration. This taste for the decentered and plural is immediately recognizable as a dominant feature of contemporary intellectual, artistic, and political style. Williams claims that his ethical revisionism supplies a singularly appropriate fit for this predisposition.
Though Williams and his work are...
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SOURCE: Figueira, Dorothy. “Aryan Aristocrats and Übermenschen: Nietzsche's Reading of the Laws of Manu.” Comparatist: Journal of the Southern Comparative Literature 23 (May 1999): 5-20.
[In the following essay, Figueira discusses how Nietzsche incorporated his interest in the Indian law book The Laws of Manu into his work.]
Much has been written on Nietzsche's reconstruction of Indian thought.1 Indologists and historians of religion have placed great importance on Nietzsche's appropriation of Indian themes; and, indeed, the philosopher's evocation of India is varied and often tantalizing. These evocations range from Nietzsche's use of terminology and concepts to his penchant for quoting Sanskrit sources, as on the title page to Daybreak where he purportedly cites the Rig Veda: “There are so many days that have not yet broken” [Es giebt so viele Morgenröthen die noch nicht geleuchtet haben, (KSA 9: 413)].2 One critic has, however, recently discounted the role that Indian thought played for Nietzsche, viewing such references as late and insignificant.3 This position views Nietzsche's evocation of India as specious and accuses him of the very trivialization that he accused Schopenhauer of committing (Untimely 3: 7). To my mind, this is a harsh judgment. While the traces of India's influence in Nietzsche's work are elusive,...
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SOURCE: Freeman, Michael. “Truth and Justice in Bertolt Brecht.” Cardozo Studies in Law and Literature 11, no. 2 (winter 1999): 197-214.
[In the following essay, Freeman examines Brecht's notions about law, morality, and justice as revealed through his play The Caucasian Chalk Circle.]
I. NOT BERTOLT BRECHT
This paper is not about truth and justice in Bertolt Brecht, the man. There was not much of either of these values in his life. Like Dubedat in Shaw's The Doctor's Dilemma, he was a “scoundrel but an artist.”1 Politically self-serving, a misogynist, plagiarist and anti-Semite,2 he crossed “his fingers for Hitler” when he heard of the July Plot.3 Of his denial later that he was or had been a member of the Communist Party, John Fuegi observes
Like Galileo before the Inquisition, Brecht helped strengthen the hands of his inquisitors. … He weakened the case of his colleagues in the Hollywood script-writing community and anybody else who was under attack by this unscrupulous body. As at other key moments in history where he could have stood up and been counted, Brecht chose public co-operation: he did not directly confront the Nazis; he did not support the Jewish cause; he did not defend people like Bukharin and Tretiakov though he privately believed they were innocent; and he advised his...
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SOURCE: Gailus, Andreas. “Lessons of the Cryptograph: Revelation and the Mechanical in Kafka's ‘In the Penal Colony.’” Modernism/Modernity 8, no. 2 (April 2001): 295-302.
[In the following essay, Gailus explores Kafka's idea of the law as a “force without significance” as developed through his satire of the law machine in “In the Penal Colony.”]
According to a great Rabbi, Walter Benjamin recalls in his essay on Kafka, the coming Messiah “will not wish to change the world by force but will merely make a slight adjustment in it.”1 A slight adjustment of the ordinary—this is indeed what happens everywhere in Kafka's texts in which daily objects, made all but invisible through familiarity, are transformed into enigmatic signs. The archetype of the enigmatic object-sign for Kafka is the door, and it is indeed doors that structure the parabolic and mythic space of his narratives. Opened and shut, locked and unlocked, peeped through and barricaded, they cease to be ordinary doors and become instead architectural elements in a theater of the unsayable. This is of course nowhere more true than with those doors that his heroes regularly confront in their search for truth: it happens to K. in The Castle, to Josef K. in The Trial, and, most famously of all, to the man from the country in the parable “Before the Law.” If only they were able to pass through these...
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SOURCE: Üsekes, Çigdem. “‘You Always under Attack’: Whiteness as Law and Terror in August Wilson's Twentieth-Century Cycle of Plays.” American Dramas 10, no. 2 (summer 2001): 48-68.
[In the following essay, Üsekes discusses Wilson's linking of whiteness with law and terror in his plays, suggesting that off-stage white characters symbolize a corrupt legal system that oppresses blacks.]
August Wilson has won critical acclaim for his ambitious project of chronicling the African American experience in the twentieth century with a cycle of ten plays. But those critics who have applauded Wilson's black characters have neglected to pay attention to his equally intriguing, if less prominent, white characters, an oversight which has prevailed as one of the critical blind spots in Wilson scholarship.1 Of course, because August Wilson's cycle of plays proposes to rewrite the white version of twentieth-century American history from an African American vantage point, it features and foregrounds black characters. However, since these characters cannot avoid frequent interactions with white society at large, Wilson's work also highlights the perceptions of whiteness among black Americans as a result of these encounters. In this essay, I will focus on Wilson's association of whiteness with law and terror in his cycle of plays and its implications for his predominantly white audience. The...
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Cheng, Sinkwan. “Crossing Desire and Drive in A Passage to India: The Subversion of the British Colonial Law in the ‘Twilight Zone of Double Vision.’” Literature and Psychology 47, no. 3 (2001): 1-24.
Argues that the neutral space of the Marabar caves creates an environment in which the relationship between colonizer and colonized becomes first destabilized, then reversed in Forster's novel.
Dimock, Wai Chee. Residues of Justice. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996, 278 p.
Dimock explores the interaction between literature and the law, positing that literature can provide a needed corrective to the abstractness of the law.
Hoffheimer, Michael H. “Varieties of Law and Literature.” CLIO 27, no. 3 (spring 1998): 415-27.
Reviews two recent books dealing with literature and law and how the two disciplines together can work toward justice.
Hogan, Patrick Colm. “On Reading Law as Literature.” College Literature 25 (winter 1998): 231-36.
Identifies and discusses some problems inherent in treating the law as literature.
Kinkley, Jeffrey C. Chinese Justice, the Fiction. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2000, 497 p.
Focuses on the intersection between law and...
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