Nihilism Need Not Apply: Law and Literature in Barth's 'the Floating Opera'
113 Pages Posted: 20 Apr 2000
Date Written: March 2000
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.
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