Book Review, Guyora Binder and Robert Weisberg, Literary Criticisms of Law
9 Pages Posted: 19 Oct 2004
Bringing together detailed and useful discussion of hermeneutic, narrative, rhetorical, and deconstructionist criticisms of law in one volume is no small task. To do this and then make a strong case for an alternative conception of law in that same volume is a monumental undertaking. In "Literary Criticisms of Law," Binder and Weisberg engage in this undertaking with surprising, but not complete, success. The book is notable for its breadth and depth. It explores the evolution, primary figures, and theoretical underpinnings of intellectual movements that are - as the authors demonstrate - anything but monolithic. As a general matter the authors pull this off while adding some useful insights about each theory they explore.
The book is quite long and dense, but it is well written and the length and depth of the material are a strength for readers who are looking for reference material or an in depth discussion of the various schools of thought involved. The book also makes an argument for resting literary criticisms of law on a cultural base rather than exclusively on one of the competing criticisms of law. In making this argument the authors adeptly demonstrate how each of the other criticisms of law they address - hermeneutic, narrative, rhetorical, and deconstructionist - offer something of import to a cultural criticism of law. I argue, however, that the authors' cultural criticism of law may really be subsumed in the hermeneutic criticism of law, specifically that of philosophical hermeneutics.
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