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4 Law & Human. iii (2010)

handle is hein.journals/lawhuman4 and id is 1 raw text is: Editorial
Paul Raffield and Gary Watt
The editors of a general issue of a general journal on Law and Humanities have no right
to expect that its component parts, combined by accidents of time and intent, will come
together to produce a harmonious whole, but the composition of this issue has a
coherence which the editors would be glad to claim even though they can take little credit
for it. The key note in the composition is sounded, or reprised, by Ian Ward's review of
two recent books on the legal history of marriage and cohabitation, in which he reminds
us that the arts and humanities, including the literary or fictional aspect of law, are not
merely decorative or supplemental to laws and our understanding of laws, but constitutive
of them. The same note is clearly audible, dominant even, in the articles by Erika
Chamberlain, Julen Etxabe and John C Kleefeld. Erika Chamberlain employs the insights
of Biblical hermeneutics to re-examine the famous 'neighbour principle' formulated by
Lord Atkin in the case of Donoghue v Stevenson, and argues that Lord Atkin's reference to
the Parable of the Good Samaritan was not mere 'rhetorical flourish' but a flowering of
the poetic in the very fundamentals of legal language-this, she argues, is why it has
achieved so much and endured for so long. The same strain is developed, with subtle
variations, by Julen Etxabe in his article on the legal universe after Robert Cover. It was
Cover who wrote, in Nomos and Narrative (one of the leading essays of Law and
Humanities scholarship), that '[o]nce understood in the context of the narratives that
give it meaning, law becomes not merely a system of rules to be observed, but a world in
which we live'.1 Reading, and reinterpreting Cover, Etxabe argues that our understanding
of laws, especially the laws of others, will be deepened by sensitive intellectual and
emotional appreciation of not laws only, but also the cultural (including literary) contexts
for laws. Etxabe's article argues persuasively that Cover deserves to be considered an equal
to, and an appealing alternative to, such luminaries of legal theory as Kelsen, Hart and
Dworkin. The article by John C Kleefeld is also in tune with the main note, for in it
Kleefeld acknowledges that he is 'singing the praises of the poetic impulse in law'. Written
in the 'spirit of exploration', it takes the form of a thoughtful survey of poem as law and
poem in law. Kleefeld concludes on a cautionary note when he warns that poetry 'ought
to serve the law' and that the 'manner' ought to be subordinate to the 'matter'. This should
1 Robert M Cover, 'The Supreme Court, 1982 Term-Foreword: Nomos and Narrative' (1983) 97 Harvard
Law Review 4, at 4-5.


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