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60 Va. L. Rev. 451 (1974)
Economic Analysis of Law: Some Realism about Nominalism

handle is hein.journals/valr60 and id is 463 raw text is: COMMENTARY

Arthur Allen Leff*
W ITH the publication of Richard A. Posner's Economic Analysis
of Law, that field of learning known as Law and Economics
has reached a stage of extended explicitness that requires and permits ex-
tended and explicit comment. But one of the dangers of reviewing a work
mainly designed for use either as a textbook in a law school course...
or as supplementary reading for law students.. . , ' and getting down to
the job later than one ought, is that one perforce reads it straight through,
as if it were a real book. Having done that one cannot help being nagged
throughout by what may be the literary critic's most pernicious and
unavoidable naggerie: Where have I seen this before? At any rate, from
my first glance at the table of contents, with its relentless item by item
march through all of law-property, contracts, crimes and torts, labor
law, corporations, taxation, racial discrimination, civil procedure ... all
the way through to a final Note on Jurisprudence-I smelled a familiar
genre. But for the longest time, I couldn't place it. A manual of possible
uses, the kind that comes with a new chain saw? A text on herbal heal-
ing? Not quite. But what? I was more than half way through the book
before it came to me: as a matter of literary genre (though most likely
not as a matter of literary influence) the closest analogue to Economic
Analysis of Law is the picaresque novel.
Think of the great ones, Tow Jones, for instance, or Huckleberry
Finn, or Don Quixote. In each case the eponymous hero sets out into
a world of complexity and brings to bear on successive segments of it
the power of his own particular personal vision. The world presents
itself as a series of problems; to each problem that vision acts as a form
of solution; and the problem having been dispatched, our hero passes on
to the next adventure. The particular interactions are essentially in-
variant because the central vision is single. No matter what comes up
or comes by, Tom's sensual vigor, Huck's cynical innocence, or the
Don's aggressive romanticism is brought into play, forever to transform
* Professor of Law, Yale University. Member, New York Bar. B.A., 1956, Amherst
College; LL.B., 1959, Harvard University.
1 R. PosNER, EcoNomic ANALSsis OF LAW X (1973) [hereinafter cited as POSER].

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