The Literary Model in Comparative Law

10 Pages Posted: 24 Oct 2014

See all articles by Eric Heinze

Eric Heinze

Queen Mary University of London, School of Law

Date Written: September 1, 2014


Legal theory, if it is to attain any level of generality, makes difficult, sometimes unacknowledged assumptions about geography and history. Comparative law enters as a corrective. It tempers unwarranted notions about such basic concepts as ‘norm’, ‘practice’, ‘power’, ‘process’, or ‘procedure’. This essay does not propose any systematic method for scrutinising such concepts. It instead examines possible insights offered by a comparative literary model, which can shed some light on the methods of comparative law. Brief examples from Shakespeare, Racine, and Corneille are introduced to identify obstacles of universality and relativism — or rather, of ‘comparative continuity’ and ‘comparative discontinuity’ — as they arise relative to the emergence of the nation state in late 16th and 17th century Western Europe.

Keywords: English law, French law, legal theory, legal history, Shakespeare, Corneille, Racine, comparative law, law and literature

Suggested Citation

Heinze, Eric, The Literary Model in Comparative Law (September 1, 2014). American Journal of Comparative Law, Forthcoming; Queen Mary School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: or

Eric Heinze (Contact Author)

Queen Mary University of London, School of Law ( email )

67-69 Lincoln’s Inn Fields
London, WC2A 3JB
United Kingdom

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