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Blackstone and his Commentaries

Biography, Law, History

Editor(s): Wilfrid Prest
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Published: 06-07-2009
Format: PDF eBook (?)
Edition: 1st
Extent: 280
ISBN: 9781847315199
Imprint: Hart Publishing
RRP: £26.98
Online price : £24.28
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About Blackstone and his Commentaries

One of the most celebrated works in the Anglo-American legal tradition, William Blackstone's Commentaries on the Laws of England (1765-9) has recently begun to attract renewed interest from legal and other scholars. The Commentaries no longer dominate legal education as they once did, especially in North America during the century after their first publication. But they continue to be regularly cited in the judgments of superior courts of review on both sides of the Atlantic, and elsewhere throughout the common-law world. They also provide constitutional, cultural, intellectual and legal historians with a remarkably comprehensive account of the role of law, lawyers and the courts in the imperial superpower that was England on the cusp of the industrial revolution.

The life and character of Blackstone himself, the nature and sources of his jurisprudence as expounded in the Commentaries, and the impact of his great book, both within and beyond his native shores, are the main themes of this collection. Individual essays treat Blackstone's early architectural treatises and their relationship to the Commentaries; his idiosyncratic book collecting; his views of the role of judges, interpretation of statutes, the law of marriage, the status of wives, natural law, property law and the legalities of colonisation, and the varied reception of the Commentaries in America and continental Europe. Blackstone's bibliography and iconography also receive attention. Combining the work of both eminent and emerging scholars, this interdisciplinary venture sheds welcome new light on a legal classic and its continued influence.

I Life
1 Blackstone and Biography - Wilfrid Prest
2 A 'Model of the Old House': Architecture in Blackstone's Life and Commentaries - Carol Matthews
3 'A Mighty Consumption of Ale': Blackstone, Buckler, and All Souls College, Oxford - Norma Aubertin-Potter
4 William Blackstone and William Prynne: an Unlikely Association? - Ian Doolittle
II Thought
5 Blackstone on Judging - John H Langbein
6 Blackstone's Rules for the Construction of Statutes - John V Orth
7 Blackstone and Bentham on the Law of Marriage - Mary Sokol
8 Coverture and Unity of Person in Blackstone's Commentaries -Tim Stretton
9 Blackstone's Commentaries on Colonialism: Australian Judicial Interpretations - Thalia Anthony
10 Restoring the 'Real' to Real Property Law: A Return to Blackstone? - Nicole Graham
III Influence
11 American Blackstones - Michael Hoeflich
12 Did Blackstone get the Gallic Shrug? - John Emerson
13 Blackstone in Germany - Horst Dippel
IV Sources
14 Bibliography - Morris Cohen
15 Iconography - J H Baker and Wilfrid Prest

Contributors
-Thalia Anthony lectures in law at the University of Sydney.
-Norma Aubertin-Potter is Librarian-in-Charge of the Codrington Library, All Souls College, Oxford.
-J H Baker, Downing Professor of the Laws of England at the University of Cambridge, is Literary Director of the Selden Society.
-Morris Cohen, Professor Emeritus and Professorial Lecturer in Law, is the former Librarian of Yale Law School.
-Horst Dippel is Professor of British and American Studies at the University of Kassel.
-Ian Doolittle, formerly a Junior Research Fellow at Christ Church, Oxford, is a partner in the
law firm Trowers and Hamlins LLP in London.
-John Emerson holds a Visiting Research Fellowship in the Law School, University of Adelaide.
-Nicole Graham is Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Law, University of Technology, Sydney.
-Michael Hoeflich is John H and John M Kane Distinguished Professor in the Law School, University of Kansas.
-John Langbein is Sterling Professor of Law and Legal History at Yale Law School.
-Carol Matthews teaches in the School of History and Politics at the University of Adelaide.
-John V Orth holds the William Rand Kenan Jr Chair of Law at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
-Wilfrid Prest is Professor Emeritus and Visiting Research Fellow in the Law School and School of History and Politics, University of Adelaide.
-Mary Sokol holds an Honorary Research Fellowship in the Bentham Project at University College London.
-Tim Stretton teaches history at St Mary's University, Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Table Of Contents

I Life
1 Blackstone and Biography - Wilfrid Prest
2 A 'Model of the Old House': Architecture in Blackstone's Life and Commentaries - Carol Matthews
3 'A Mighty Consumption of Ale': Blackstone, Buckler, and All Souls College, Oxford - Norma Aubertin-Potter
4 William Blackstone and William Prynne: an Unlikely Association? - Ian Doolittle
II Thought
5 Blackstone on Judging - John H Langbein
6 Blackstone's Rules for the Construction of Statutes - John V Orth
7 Blackstone and Bentham on the Law of Marriage - Mary Sokol
8 Coverture and Unity of Person in Blackstone's Commentaries -Tim Stretton
9 Blackstone's Commentaries on Colonialism: Australian Judicial Interpretations - Thalia Anthony
10 Restoring the 'Real' to Real Property Law: A Return to Blackstone? - Nicole Graham
III Influence
11 American Blackstones - Michael Hoeflich
12 Did Blackstone get the Gallic Shrug? - John Emerson
13 Blackstone in Germany - Horst Dippel
IV Sources
14 Bibliography - Morris Cohen
15 Iconography - J H Baker and Wilfrid Prest

Reviews

“For this reader, the three chapters concerning the influence of Blackstone were the highlight of a splendid collection...Unlike the Commentaries themselves, this book is not intended as a systematic or scientific work. However, for a collection of essays it is remarkable how well the various chapters complement each other. The book repays reading as a whole.” –  Ian Williams, Cambridge Law Journal

“The worth of Blackstone and his Commentaries, as a collection of essays, is not to be measured by the distinction of the authors of its various chapters although, in this case, it is difficult to imagine a more impressive collection of scholars covering such a broad range of expertise upon a single person's life and work. Happily, the quality of the writing, in this case, matches the outstanding reputations of its respective authors.

I happily recommend Blackstone and his Commentaries as a collection of essays each of which is full of interest and which, taken together, provide an important guide to Blackstone's historic contribution and his continuing relevance for the development of the law.
” –  Stephen Keim, Hearsay

“[An] excellent book [which will] form the foundation for any future scholarship on Blackstone and his commentaries.” –  R.B. Bernstein, The Law and Politics Book Review

“This is a very interesting and useful collection of essays, which show very clearly how, nearly 250 years after the publication of his greatest work, there still remains much to be said about the Commentator.” –  Michael Lobban, The Journal of Legal History, 31:3

“Taken all together, the essays give a mixed answer to the question of the enduring value of the Commentaries (on the Law of England). Differences of opinion among the authors of these essays appear. They are united, however, in having something of interest to say in drawing diverse conclusions.” –  R H Helmholz, Comparative Legal History

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