Balzacian Legality: A Proposal for Natural Law Juridicial Standards of Legitimacy
40 Pages Posted: 14 Apr 2016
Date Written: 1981
The task of the present article is twofold. First, it represents an attempt to make an original English language contribution to the continuing interdisciplinary inquiry, begun in France, into the presence of law in Balzac's The Human Comedy, by focusing upon themes and novels that have not been the subject of previous individual study. Second, it seeks to contribute to an area of growing interest to legal scholars in the United States – the study of law and literature – by providing an example of the insights one French novelist with legal training and experience had into questions that forever perplex and challenge the minds of those who teach and practice law; the relationships among legality, legitimacy, morality and personal and community ethics. The scope of the inquiry centers principally upon one of Balzac's major novels, Lost Illusions, and the thematic structure of its third and final part. It is the thesis of this study that this novel contains many of the principal tenets of Balzac's legal thought, and that those facets of his legal thought are brought out more clearly through an analysis and understanding of the novelist's propensity toward idealism (as opposed to his historical realism). This idealistic propensity is to be seen in the personality and status of the angelic characters in the novel.
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