Revenge versus Legality
Wild Justice from Balzac to Clint Eastwood and Abu Ghraib
Routledge-Cavendish – 2010 – 218 pages
Series: Birkbeck Law Press
In the wake of Guantanamo Bay, extraordinary renditions, and secret torture centres in Eastern Europe and elsewhere, Revenge versus Legality addresses the relationship between law and wild or vigilante justice; between the power to enforce retribution and the desire to seek revenge. Taking up a variety of narratives from the eras of Romanticism, Realism, Modernism and the Contemporary period, and including new theories to explain the interactions that occur between legalistic courtroom justice and the vigilante variety, Revenge versus Legality analyzes some of the main obstacles to justice, ranging from judicial corruption, to racism and imperialism. The book culminates in a consideration of that form of crime or lawlessness that poses the most serious threat to the rule of law: vigilante justice masquerading as legality. With its mixture of politics, literature, law, and film, this lively and accessible book offers a timely reflection on the enduring phenomenon of revenge.
1. Introduction 2. Revenge and the Detective Tradition: When Dogs Don't Bark, and Detectives Don't Tell 3. Some Like it Wild: Supernatural Revenge in Sheridan Le Fanu's Mr. Justice Harbottle 4. Law and the Romantic Ego: Conspiracy and Justice in Honore de Balzac's Le Pere Goriot 5. Justice, Race, and Revenge in Twain's Pudd'nhead Wilson 6. The Empire Strikes Back: Imperialism and Justice in E.M. Forster's A Passage to India 7. Race, Sex, Fear, Revenge in Richard Wright's Native Son 8. State Terrorism and Revenge in Andre Brink's A Dry White Season 9. Rogue Cops and Beltway Vigilantes
Katherine Maynard is a Professor of English at Rider University. She is the author of two books: Thomas Hardy’s Tragic Poetry, and Men and Women at Work, as well as numerous scholarly articles on literature, American culture, and ideas of justice.
Jarod Kearney is the Curator and Museum Director at the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library and Museum. He writes scholarly articles on American history and film, and writes short stories and plays.
James Guimond is a Professor of English and American Studies at Rider University. He is the author of American Photography and the American Dream, and his research interests include law and literature, imperialism, and American culture.