January 20, 2016

A New Collection of Law-Themed Short Stories

Elizabeth Villiers Gemmette has published Law in Literature: Legal Themes in American Stories: 1842-1917 (Buckingham Group, 2015). Here is a description of the book's contents.

The twenty stories included in this anthology were all written by American authors, and all of them were first published in the seventy-five years between 1842 and 1917. What the stories have in common is that each of them explores legal themes and issues.

In this volume, stories written by women include "A Jury of Her Peers" by Susan Glaspell, Life in the Iron-Mills by Rebecca Harding Davis, and "The Godmother" by Kate Chopin. Stories written by black writers include "The Lynching of Jude Bensen" by Paul Lawrence Dunbar, The Heroic Slave by Frederick Douglass, and "The Wife of His Youth" by Charles W. Chestnutt. Other writers include Melville Davisson Post, Edgar Allan Poe, Herman Melville, Richard Harding Davis, Jack London, Bret Harte, O'Henry, Hamlin Garland, and Willa Cather.

Many of the characters in the stories included in this anthology are despondent, depressed, and desperate. Yet, many of them are defiant, determined, and dedicated to helping themselves and others to overcome the deplorable conditions of their lives. Two words capture the struggles of those characters. Those two words are from "Bartleby" by Herman Melville: "Ah, humanity!"

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