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Poethics and Other Strategies of Law and Literature


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Table of Contents

PrefaceAcknowledgmentsPaving the WayI. Poethics: Toward a Literary Jurisprudence1. Filling the void2. The Poetic Method for Law, or How the Law Means3. Narrative Aspects of Judicial Opinions4. Poetic Substance: The Poethics of Legal NarrativeLegalistic StorytellersII. Let's Not Kill All the Lawyers: Anglo-American Fiction's Equivocal Approach to the Lawyer FIgure5. The Literary Lawyer's Six Compelling Traits6. "I'll have no feelings here!": More on Mr. Jaggers7. Law's Oppression of the Feminine Other: Mr. Tulkinghorn v. Lady Dedlock8. John Barth's Todd Andrews: Inductive Reasoning, Relative Values9. Gavin Stevens' Quest for Silence: Faulkner's Developing Lawyer FigureIII. Christianity's Ends10. "Then you shall be his surety": Oaths and Mediating Breaches in The Merchant of Venice11. Accepting the Inside Narrator's Challenge: More on the Christ Figure in Billy Budd, SailorIV. The Self-Imploding Canon12. Law, Literature and the "Great Books"Legal Rhetoric, or the Stories Lawyers TellV. Lawtalk in France: The Challenge to Democracy13. Avoiding Central Realities: Narrative Terror and the Failure of French Culture Under the Occupation14. Legal Rhetoric Under Stress: The Example of VichyVI. Lawtalk in America15. Thoughts on Judge Richard Posner's Literary Performance16. From Jefferson to the Gulf War: How Lawyers Have Lost Their Golden Tongue17. Notes on Three Works by James Boyd WhiteNotes (1974) on The Legal ImaginationNotes (1987) on Heracles' BowNotes (1991) on Justice as TranslationConclusionNotesIndex

About the Author

Richard H. Weisberg is a professor of constitutional law at the Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University in New York City, a leading scholar on law and literature.


Weisberg has skillfully woven together two seemingly distant subjects. As he explains, ``poetic ethics, or . . . poethics . . . endeavors nothing less than to fill the ethical void in which legal thought and practice now exist.'' Part 1 discusses the foundations for a program of study in law and literature. Part 2 explores ``the storyteller's legalistic obsession'' in a series of splendid essays on works by authors such as Charles Dickens, William Faulkner, and William Shakespeare. The last section focuses on legal rhetoric used in Vichy France and by American lawyers throughout history, with a discussion of Judge Richard Posner's Law and Literature: A Misunderstood Relation (Harvard Univ. Pr., 1988). Highly recommended for graduate programs. -- Lois Cherepon, St. John's Univ. Lib., Staten Island, New York * Library Journal *

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