By Brook Thomas
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print Publication Year:1987
Online Publication Date:October 2009
In Cross Examinations of Law and Literature Brook Thomas uses legal thought and legal practice as a lens through which to read some of the important fictions of antebellum America. The lens reflects both ways, and we learn as much about the literature in the context of contemporary legal concerns as we do about the legal ideologies that the fiction subverts or reveals. Successive chapters deal with Cooper's Pioneers and Hawthorne's The House of Seven Gables (property law and the image of the judiciary), Melville's "Benito Cereno" and Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin (slavery), Melville's White Jacket, Pierre and "Bartleby" (worker exploitation or wage slavery), The Confidence-Man (contracts), and finally, "Billy Budd," which examines a number of issues illustrative of the triumph of legal formalism after the Civil War.
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