On Literature as Legal Authority

33 Pages Posted: 18 Sep 2007


This Note surveys the courts' use of poetry, fiction, and drama to develop substantive law. Combining premises of legal realism and literary criticism, the Note rejects the position held by Judge Posner and other critics that literature is too subjective to offer the law legitimate substantive guidance. As caselaw examples demonstrate, the subjectivity of great writing can provide judicial opinions with a unique view to the complexity of life.

Keywords: Law, Literature, Classics, Literary Authority, Poetry, Fiction, Drama, Aristotle, Lon Fuller, Dickens, Shakespeare, Rhetoric, Logos, Pathos, Ethos, Narrative, Legal fiction, Maxim, Literary criticism, Jurisprudence, Posner

Suggested Citation

DeStefano, John M., On Literature as Legal Authority. Arizona Law Review, Vol. 49, p. 521, 2007; Arizona Legal Studies Discussion Paper No. 07-20. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1013738

John M. DeStefano (Contact Author)


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