Aesthetics of Law and Culture: Texts, Images, Screens

ISBN: 978-0-76231-151-4, eISBN: 978-1-84950-304-4

ISSN: 1059-4337

Publication date: 30 December 2004


This article1 is offered up in the spirit of what the High Kings of Gondor might call a weregild.2 That is, I hope, in this article, to clear a debt: a debt, long overdue, much like that owed by the Armies of the Dead to Isildur’s heir, Aragorn son of Arathorn. I reference The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (Tolkien, 1994) because this article is, in the main, about Tolkien and his oeuvre as an astonishing instance of what might be called lex populi. But this article attempts more than just another cultural legal reading of a popular literary and cinematic phenomenon.3 What, in fact, it proposes is nothing less than a practical demonstration of what it means to read jurisprudentially. In so doing, I hope to repay some of the theoretical debt that jurisprudence (and law-and-literature) has incurred, and owes so clearly to literary criticism, cultural studies and Continental philosophy. For far too long jurisprudence has been content to absorb the lessons of these other disciplines’ versions of textual theory – of the play of the sign, the dissemination of meaning, the deconstruction of logos – without propounding its own topoi let alone interpretive paradigms. Such topoi, of course, jurisprudence has in abundance: in notions of a “higher justice”; in concepts of law’s connection with morality; and, especially, the law’s role in inaugurating “the social.”


MacNeil, W. (2004), "14. ONE RECHT", Kenyon, A. and Rush, P. (Ed.) Aesthetics of Law and Culture: Texts, Images, Screens (Studies in Law, Politics, and Society, Vol. 34), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 279-303. https://doi.org/10.1016/S1059-4337(04)34014-7

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