Revenge versus Legality

Wild Justice from Balzac to Clint Eastwood and Abu Ghraib

By Katherine Maynard, Jarod Kearney, James Guimond

© 2010 – Routledge-Cavendish

218 pages

Purchasing Options:
Paperback: 9780415697729
pub: 2011-08-17
US Dollars$54.95
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Hardback: 9780415560160
pub: 2010-04-07
US Dollars$150.00
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About the Book

In the wake of Guantanamo Bay, extraordinary renditions, and secret torture centres in Eastern Europe and elsewhere, Revenge versus Legality addresses the relationship between law and wild or vigilante justice; between the power to enforce retribution and the desire to seek revenge. Taking up a variety of narratives from the eras of Romanticism, Realism, Modernism and the Contemporary period, and including new theories to explain the interactions that occur between legalistic courtroom justice and the vigilante variety, Revenge versus Legality analyzes some of the main obstacles to justice, ranging from judicial corruption, to racism and imperialism. The book culminates in a consideration of that form of crime or lawlessness that poses the most serious threat to the rule of law: vigilante justice masquerading as legality. With its mixture of politics, literature, law, and film, this lively and accessible book offers a timely reflection on the enduring phenomenon of revenge.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction 2. Revenge and the Detective Tradition: When Dogs Don't Bark, and Detectives Don't Tell 3. Some Like it Wild: Supernatural Revenge in Sheridan Le Fanu's Mr. Justice Harbottle 4. Law and the Romantic Ego: Conspiracy and Justice in Honore de Balzac's Le Pere Goriot 5. Justice, Race, and Revenge in Twain's Pudd'nhead Wilson 6. The Empire Strikes Back: Imperialism and Justice in E.M. Forster's A Passage to India 7. Race, Sex, Fear, Revenge in Richard Wright's Native Son 8. State Terrorism and Revenge in Andre Brink's A Dry White Season 9. Rogue Cops and Beltway Vigilantes

About the Authors

Katherine Maynard is a Professor of English at Rider University. She is the author of two books: Thomas Hardy’s Tragic Poetry, and Men and Women at Work, as well as numerous scholarly articles on literature, American culture, and ideas of justice.

Jarod Kearney is the Curator and Museum Director at the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library and Museum. He writes scholarly articles on American history and film, and writes short stories and plays.

James Guimond is a Professor of English and American Studies at Rider University. He is the author of American Photography and the American Dream, and his research interests include law and literature, imperialism, and American culture.

About the Series

Birkbeck Law Press

Birkbeck Law School has been recognised as an international centre of research excellence, specialising in legal theory and theoretically informed socio-legal research and pioneering critical approaches to scholarship.

Birkbeck Law Press aims to develop a distinct publishing profile by addressing the legal challenges of late modernity. Globalisation and the move towards universal legal values, which should respect cultural specificities and local conditions, has created the urgent need for greater dialogue and understanding between the major schools of thought and legal systems in the world. Most legal publishing, driven by the needs of specialisation and the state-based nature of positive law, has not systematically addressed these concerns.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LAW000000
LAW / General
LAW060000
LAW / Legal History
LAW096000
LAW / Media & the Law
LIT006000
LITERARY CRITICISM / Semiotics & Theory
SOC022000
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Popular Culture