BOOK REVIEW: Dissecting Interpretation. INTERPRETING LAW AND LITERATURE: A HERMENEUTIC READER. Edited by Sanford Levinson + and Steven Mailloux. # Skip over navigation
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Copyright (c) 1990 Texas Law Review
Texas Law Review

BOOK REVIEW: Dissecting Interpretation.

INTERPRETING LAW AND LITERATURE: A HERMENEUTIC READER. Edited by Sanford Levinson + and Steven Mailloux. #

Evanston, Ill.: Northwestern University Press, 1988. Pp. 491. $ 62.95, cloth; $ 29.95, paper. ++

+ Charles Tilford McCormick Professor of Law, The University of Texas School of Law. A.B. 1962, Duke University; Ph.D. 1969, Harvard University; J.D. 1973, Stanford University.

# Professor of English, Syracuse University. B.A. 1972, Loyola University; M.A. 1974, Ph.D. 1977, University of Southern California.

++ Hereinafter cited by page or chapter number only.

April, 1990

68 Tex. L. Rev. 1073


Reviewed by L. H. LaRue *


I. Interpretation: The Contemporary Debate

The editors of this fine collection, Interpreting Law and Literature: A Hermeneutic Reader, have assembled a group of readings that should enlighten the debate about interpretation. I assume that everyone knows that there is a debate about interpretation, and I am surely on solid ground in assuming that the readers of this journal are aware of it. But, on the off chance that a copy of this issue might fall into the hands of a stranger, perhaps I should write a few words of introduction.

The title of this book provides a good starting point because it fairly accurately describes the book's contents. The editors have noted that lawyers interpret law and that critics interpret literature, 1 and they recognize that this similarity suggests an obvious question: why not compare the two? 2 Their response is a collection in which they have compiled the ideas of both legal and literary scholars.

The book's premise raises some initial questions, however. An alert reader might wonder, for example, why a sensible publisher would invest in a book about interpretation. Furthermore, assuming that readers would be interested in a comparison between law and something else, one might wonder why the editors would choose to compare it to literature. Why not, for example, compare the way lawyers interpret statutes with the way historians interpret archival documents? I suggest, therefore, that there are two questions that are relevant to a basic understanding of this book: first, why worry about ...
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