Law's Interior: Legal and Literary Constructions of the Self

Law's Interior: Legal and Literary Constructions of the Self

Law's Interior: Legal and Literary Constructions of the Self

Law's Interior: Legal and Literary Constructions of the Self

Synopsis

In Law's Interior, Kevin M. Crotty draws on several important literary works to offer a new model of the relationship between citizens and their laws, one that emphasizes the power of law to shape citizens and to foster--or discourage--their autonomy. Crotty maintains that citizens are "inside" the law--they are the law's interior. Literature, he finds, can be relevant to law by emphasizing the connections between law and the world around it--a stance that corrects the tendency of legal theory to treat law as a separate, autonomous entity.The texts Crotty examines--Aeschylus' Oresteia, St. Augustine's Confessions, and the poetry of Wallace Stevens--question the rationalist optimism that Crotty regards as distorting much recent theorizing about law. Further, he asserts that the inability of courts to state clearly the principles animating their decisions demonstrates the stranglehold the positivist model has on us and our legal imaginations.Crotty sketches a model of the relation between citizens and laws that supplements the more familiar idea of law as something deliberated and enacted by rational, inherently autonomous citizens. The most important legal decisions of the past fifty years, Crotty says, rest on the perception that the state, far from merely respecting the "innate" autonomy of its citizens, actively shapes that autonomy. Law's Interior should contribute to a better understanding of the real principles underlying some landmark decisions by the Supreme Court.

Excerpt

I began researching and writing this book during a happy year spent at the Frances Lewis Law Center at the Washington & Lee School of Law. I am deeply appreciative of the opportunity to explore a subject that had long fascinated me—to articulate some persistent misgivings about current legal theory and to explore some new ways of thinking about it. A Glenn Grant from Washington & Lee University enabled me to complete work on the manuscript. Winston Davis read two of the chapters and encouraged me throughout the writing process. Victor Bers read the first chapter and offered helpful comments and suggestions. Thanks as well to the referees for Cornell University Press for their suggestions, and to Bernhard Kendler for advice and support. Quotes from Wallace Stevens are reprinted by permission of Random House Inc. and Faber and Faber Ltd. John Rawls’s “The Idea of Public Reason Revisited” appeared too late for me to discuss it. There, Rawls offers some clarifications of his argument in Political Liberalism, as well as some amendments to it. While I would have liked to address some of these changes, I believe that the discussion adequately describes the essentials of Rawls’s argument and identifies the problems it poses. My deepest debt is to Anna Brodsky, and to her I dedicate this book.

K. M. C.

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