Law Text Culture


D. S. Caudill


It is not the history but the study of law that is endless; and it is not the pleasure but the melancholy of a life in law that is identified by Goodrich in his recent historical analyses of the institutions of the common law. The two books seem to belong together - the concluding chapter of Oedipus Lex is in part identical to the introductory chapter of Law in the Courts of Love - as if in a series (by different publishers) that constitute a single case study of the pathology of contemporary law. Oedipus Lex can thus be viewed as describing a type of psychoanalytic methodology for interpreting the history and texts of social institutions, while Law in the Courts of Love (in which psychoanalysis is discussed only in passing) highlights in detail that which has been repressed and forgotten in the institutions of law. In another sense, however, Law in the Courts of Love is the primary text of the two books, as Goodrich's concluding evaluation of the failures of critical legal theory recommends the radical historical and historiographical reflection that is exemplified in Oedipus Lex. Such 'orderings,' neither of which is misleading, are really beside the point, since each of Goodrich's studies stands alone as a sustained effort to reveal the unconscious of law; for that reason alone, the books can be usefully read together (in any order).