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New Directions in Law and Literature$
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Elizabeth S. Anker and Bernadette Meyler

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780190456368

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190456368.001.0001

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There’s No Such Thing as Interpreting a Text

There’s No Such Thing as Interpreting a Text

Chapter:
(p.69) Chapter 4 There’s No Such Thing as Interpreting a Text
Source:
New Directions in Law and Literature
Author(s):

Martin Jay Stone

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190456368.003.0005

Positively, this chapter sets out various structural differences between literary and legal interpretation. Negatively, it criticizes views of legal and literary interpretation that attempt to derive their features from an account of interpretation-in-general. The thesis that a successful interpretation always recovers an author’s intention is specifically rejected. A “naïve” view of interpretation is defended—the one that appears when we are sunk in practical activity—as opposed to theories of interpretation (e.g., “postmodern” ones) that tend to picture it as ubiquitous and endless.

Keywords:   law and literature, interpretation, indeterminacy, authorial intention, intentionalism, pluralism, Wittgenstein, Paul de Man

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