The Mirror of Justice: Literary Reflections of Legal Crises

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Princeton University Press, 2003 - 322 pages

This book studies major works of literature from classical antiquity to the present that reflect crises in the evolution of Western law: the move from a prelegal to a legal society in The Eumenides, the Christianization of Germanic law in Njal's Saga, the disenchantment with medieval customary law in Reynard the Fox, the reception of Roman law in a variety of Renaissance texts, the conflict between law and equity in Antigone and The Merchant of Venice, the eighteenth-century codification controversy in the works of Kleist, the modern debate between "pure" and "free" law in Kafka's The Trial and other fin-de-siècle works, and the effects of totalitarianism, the theory of universal guilt, and anarchism in the twentieth century.

Using principles from the anthropological theory of legal evolution, the book locates the works in their legal contexts and traces through them the gradual dissociation over the centuries of law and morality. It thereby associates and illuminates these masterpieces from an original point of view and contributes a new dimension to the study of literature and law.

In contrast to prevailing adherents of Law-and-Literature, this book professes Literature-and-Law, in which the emphasis is historical rather than theoretical, substantive rather than rhetorical, and literary rather than legal. Instead of adducing the literary work to illustrate debates about modern law, this book consults the history of law as an essential aid to the understanding of the literary text and its conflicts.

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Contents

Introduction
3
The Evolution of Law
6
The Dissociation of Law and Morality
14
The Birth of Justice from the Spirit of Tragedy
20
The Law of Blood
21
Blood Vengeance in the Oresteia
24
Aeschylus and the Areopagus
30
The Eumenides
33
Law and Equity I
144
Antigone in Context
146
Antigone and Creon
152
Sophocles and Athens
156
From Unwritten Law to Epieikeia
159
Law and Equity II
163
Equity and Anomy in Elizabethan England
167
Judicial Irregularities
174

The Ambivalence toward Pagan Law
42
Njals Saga
44
Legal Reality and the Aesthetics of Law
51
Pagan Ethos and Christian Ethics
57
Njala and Oresteia
61
The Role of Rome
63
From Codification to Customary Law
65
The Situations in Germany
69
The Disenchantment with Customary Law
74
The Trial of the Fox
80
The Old French Renart
82
The Middle High German Reinhart
89
The Flemish Reinaert
93
The Reception of Roman Law in Germany
98
Johannes Reuchlin
106
Ulrich von Hutten
111
Philipp Melanchthon
121
European Variations
130
Sir Thomas More
132
Francois Rabelais
134
The State of Anomy
182
The Attractions of Codification
187
The Codification Controversy in Germany
191
Kleists and the Prussian Code
194
The Prussian Code in Kleists Works
201
Kleists Critique of the Judicial System
207
The Affirmation of Positive Law
209
The Modern Crisis of Law
215
Kafha and the Law
224
A Burlesque of Legal Procedure
226
Kafkas Critique of the Law
233
TwentiethCentury Legal Evolutions
241
Totalitarian Law
242
The Soviet Venue
252
The Theory of Universal Guilt
256
The Lure of Anarchism
263
Justitia rediviva
270
NOTES
273
INDEX
315
Copyright

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About the author (2003)

Theodore Ziolkowski is Class of 1900 Professor of German and Comparative Literature at Princeton University. He has published ten previous books with Princeton University Press, including The View from the Tower and The Sin of Knowledge.

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