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This paper was offered as the keynote address at a conference in April of 2004 at the Cardozo Law School upon the 20th anniversary of the publication of Richard Weisberg's The Failure of the Word: the Protagonist as Lawyer in Modern Fiction (New Haven: Yale U Press, 1984). Weisberg first gives an account of the critical reception of his book, both in literary and legal circles and then situates the book - via a reading of Derrida's Force of Law - as inevitably troubling both to liberal readers such as Brook Thomas and more conservative ones such as Richard Posner. Failure of the Word, in adopting some post-modernist strategies of reading, nonetheless argues for the possibility of naming acts both of injustice and (more importantly) justice. The essay will be published (along with responses to it by Sanford Levinson and Robin West, and essays from Law and Literature scholars world-wide) in the Cardozo Law Review in early 2005.

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Cardozo Law Review

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