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34 Law & Literature 153 (2022)
Modernism and the Law

handle is hein.journals/lal34 and id is 152 raw text is: LAW & LITERATURE  VOLUME 34  NUMBER 1  BOOK REVIEWS
some of the more fruitful sections come when Mllers-here showing his juridical
background-turns his attention to such questions as the status of international
law and the ostensible value of human rights. Such analyses show that, despite
some lingering conceptual questions, Mbllers has written an extremely rich book,
combining a rarely seen analytic rigor with a truly immense range of reference.
Anyone with an interest law, practical philosophy, social theory, or aesthetics
will find much valuable analysis in its pages.
Liam Egan
Department of Comparative Literature, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, USA
Email: legan@princeton.edu
© 2021 Liam Egan
Modernism and the Law, by Robert Spoo, London: Bloomsbury Academic,
2018, ISBN 978-1474275804, US$30.95, x + 196 pp. Pbk
Bloomsbury's New Modernisms series consists of essential guides for serious
students and scholars of modernism. Robert Spoo's superb contribution to the
series amply fills this remit, offering readers an accessible survey of the literary
history, recent scholarship, and current debates pertinent to its topic. But
Modernism and the Law is something more as well: the first book-length attempt
to characterize transatlantic modernism's relationship to law per se. Not, of
course, to all laws. The book focuses on legal categories that regulated literary
modernism's communications circuit, Robert Darnton's term for the path a
work inscribes from author through intermediaries to readers. Spoo reminds us,
however, that there are more intermediaries between author and reader than are
dreamt of in our philosophy. To the obvious shortlist (editor, publisher, printer,
and bookseller) he adds patron, blackmailer, censor, pirate, postal worker, cus-
toms officer, vice crusader, lawyer, and judge. Being potentially so crowded, mod-
ernism's communications circuit encompassed a wide set of legal areas, from
copyright, free speech, and obscenity to questions of authorial reputation, priv-
acy, and publicity. What's more, Spoo's handling of this set is careful enough
that we trust him when he extrapolates from it to broader claims about modern-
ism's transgressiveness, its bent for legal exceptionalism, and the belated recep-
tion these tendencies could produce when they ran afoul of regulations.
Scholars of modernism have not lacked monographs and edited volumes on
their subject's relationship to particular areas of law.1 But these single-regime
books necessarily underrepresent what Spoo calls modernism's congested legal


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