Nihilism Need Not Apply: Law and Literature in Barth's 'the Floating Opera'

113 Pages Posted: 20 Apr 2000

See all articles by Rob Atkinson

Rob Atkinson

Florida State University - College of Law

Date Written: March 2000

Abstract

This paper uses John Barth's novel The Floating Opera to criticize the efforts of two leading law and literature scholars, Robin West and Richard Weisberg, who purport to derive objective norms from literary classics. I show how the norms that each of these scholars claims to find in this particular text are at odds not only with those of the other, but also with those implicit in the text itself. More generally, I suggest why any such search is doomed to failure. Finally, I propose, in line with own my earlier work, that fiction can provide us, not with objective norms, but with models of the kind of people we might to choose to be - or, in the case of The Floating Opera, strive not to be - in both our private and lawyerly lives.

Suggested Citation

Atkinson, Rob E., Nihilism Need Not Apply: Law and Literature in Barth's 'the Floating Opera' (March 2000). FSU College of Law, Public Law Working Paper No. 009. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=220371 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.220371

Rob E. Atkinson (Contact Author)

Florida State University - College of Law ( email )

425 W. Jefferson Street
Tallahassee, FL 32306
United States
850-644-4503 (Phone)

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
265
Abstract Views
2,876
rank
114,391
PlumX Metrics