Legal Limits explores the uneasy relationship between law and literature.
A concern for the fate of the individual in society, an interest in the truth of any matter in contention, forms of narrative, matters of conscience – lawyers and writers share preoccupations of this kind but deal with them in different ways. The legal system looks for a just result by reference to evidence, objectivity and reason. Literary works resort to mood and speculation, but in doing so they can reveal important truths.
Nicholas Hasluck’s lengthy experience as a lawyer and novelist enable him to provide a clearer understanding of the relationship. His views will be of value to practising lawyers, especially advocates, for due process depends upon stories being told well.
The wide-ranging discussion in this book, embracing controversial topics such as preventive detention for sexual offenders, recent restrictions upon freedom of speech and the role of constitutional conventions in the Whitlam dismissal, concludes with a thoughtful Afterword by a leading constitutional lawyer, Peter Johnston. In revisiting Hasluck’s acclaimed novel The Bellarmine Jug, he shows that literary works can be used to cast light on the rule of law and the meaning of justice.
“In considering how to introduce the launch of this book, a culinary term came to mind degustation. Each chapter in the book is a distinct gustatory pleasure – not only for the often-jaded legal palate, but for the probably more discerning tastes of a wider public. And to finish we have Peter Johnston’s delicious complimentary petit fours, coffee and the exotic dessert wine of the Hart-Fuller debate and its sequelae.” Read Launch Speech published in Brief, April 2014…
The Hon Robert French AC, Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia
Thought Crimes in Post-colonial Literature
Being Somewhere Else
Seeing What Happened
In Cupid’s Court
Should Judges be Mediators?
Beyond the High Court
The Whitlam Dismissal Revisited
Constitutions and Reconstitutions
Afterword: Exploring the Bellarmine Jug
In this volume of essays, Nicholas’s subjects are the law and literature and the connections between them. He notes that both professions demand the skilled use of language and yet few novelists write about the law and few lawyers write novels.
Hasluck is an accomplished writer and he has written a fascinating book. Read full review…
T E Young, Australian Club newsletter, June 2014
In the opening chapter of his latest book, Nicholas Hasluck, a former judge of the Supreme Court of Western Australia, remarks that our legal system depends upon stories being well told. For this reason, among others that Hasluck goes on to explore in the chapters that follow, literature has much to teach lawyers, and especially advocates.
Hasluck reflects on the lessons a lawyer can draw from literature. However, the book also has the air of a memoir about it.
… the book is a collection of reflections and reminiscences from a life cunningly – and successfully – spent in both disciplines.
Juliet Curtin, Bar News, Autumn 2014
There is much in the book to interest the general reader as well as the lawyer, and the often complex issues it raises for consideration are made readily comprehensible.
Legal Limits should be required reading in any university course on the inter-relations of law and literature. The post-structuralists and deconstructionists within literature departments have done their best to undermine a system of law they view as hegemonic and in need of white-anting, and it is important that more constructive and convincing cross-disciplinary studies such as Hasluck’s be read alongside them. Read full review…
Philip Ayres, Quadrant, March 2014
UWA University News, 24 Feb 2014 Read full article…
The Australian, 6 Feb 2014 Read full article…
Book review in The Australian, 1-2 February 2014 Read full review…
Book review in SMH, 25 January 2014 Read full review…
Justinian, On the Couch interviews Nicholas Hasluck Read full interview…
Launch Speech_by The Hon Robert French AC
Launching remarks by Nicholas Hasluck
Quadrant, March 2014
Gough in stereo_The Australian, 6 Feb 2014
Review Australian Club newsletter, June 2014
Review The Australian 1-2 Feb 2014
Review SMH 25 Jan 2014