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From Hunger to Love: Myths of the Source, Interpretation, and Constitution of Law in Children's Literature

Desmond Manderson
Law and Literature
Vol. 15, No. 1 (2003), pp. 87-141
Published by: Taylor & Francis, Ltd. on behalf of the Cardozo School of Law
DOI: 10.1525/lal.2003.15.1.87
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/lal.2003.15.1.87
Page Count: 55
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From Hunger to Love: Myths of the Source, Interpretation, and Constitution of Law in Children's Literature
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Abstract

Children's literature is a vitally important source of law. It is not a question of "law and literature" but of literature as law, and law as literature. The article takes the celebrated book by Maurice Sendak, "Where the Wild Things Are," as a case study. Using the work of Elias and Piaget, the article demonstrates how this story explores precisely what it means to begin to learn how to "interpret" a legal text. Sendak's text dramatizes the inherent difficulties that children face in understanding what it means to be obedient. The child Max resolves this proto-legal dilemma through an idea of legal responsibility that is incommensurable to that of legal obedience. Drawing on the ethical philosophy of Emmanuel Levinas, the article concludes that to love the law, or to promise to honor the law of the family one loves, demands an on-going commitment to think about its purposes and its justice.

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