Law and Critique

, Volume 15, Issue 3, pp 207–229

A Memorial for jeremy bentham: memory, fiction, and writing the law



At a moment when the European Union and globalisation are, in their different contexts, bringing systems of traditional law (like the Common Law), whose texts are presented as monuments to historical legal cultures, into confrontation with systems of written law which claim to be rational embodiments of universal principles of liberal justice, how might we remember Jeremy Bentham, the pioneer of the critique of the former in the name of the latter? This essay in ‘law-and-literature’ looks at the relation between memory, fiction and writing in both the Common Law and in the two last projects for which the radical legal positivist sought to be remembered: the Constitutional Code for the Use of All Nations and All Governments Professing Liberal Opinions (1830) and Auto-Icon: Or, Farther Uses of the Dead to the Living (published posthumously in 1842). By examining Bentham’s linguistic theory and practice, the article raises questions about the relations between the ‘law’ of writing and the writing of law.


common law cultural memory Jeremy Bentham law and literature legal fictions positive law written constitutions 


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Copyright information

© Springer 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Cardiff School of English, Communication and PhilosophyCardiff UniversityCardiffUK

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