Reason and Imagination: The Selected Correspondence of Learned Hand: 1897-1961


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Oxford University Press (UK)
Publish Date
6.2 X 1.6 X 9.3 inches | 1.65 pounds
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About the Author

Constance Jordan is Professor of English and Comparative Literature Emerita at Claremont Graduate University. Jordan has published many books and articles on the subject of literature and the law. She is also Learned Hand's granddaughter.


"...[Reason and Imagination] traces Hand's intellectual journey through the words of Hand himself and those of his correspondents, especially his friends Felix Frankfurter and Walter Lippmann...the letters in Reason and Imagination offer a narrative arc: Hand adopted a firm philosophy of judicial restraint early in life, as a means toward progressive political ends-and stuck with the philosophy, as the years passed, as an end in itself." --Adam J. White, Wall Street Journal

"Sympathetic, dense, and finely annotated array of letters....The letters Hand wrote reinforce the clear-cut sense that the most vital part of his life was the role he played as a shaper of law. He was its master because he was its servant. As a matter of conviction, he felt bound by limits that the law imposed on him. Yet when he felt liberated by those limits, he was an extraordinary model of what every federal judge should aspire to be." -Lincoln Caplan, New York Review of Books

"Reason and Imagination is a magnificent contribution. Learned Hand is one of America's most significant legal/judicial thinkers, and his correspondence, impeccably edited by eminent literary scholar Constance Jordan, is a treasure trove of insights on subjects as diverse as free speech, the judicial role, the role of rational analysis and empathetic imagination in judging, and the nature of ethical thought itself."
-- Martha Nussbaum, Ernst Freund Distinguished Service Professor of Law and Ethics, The University of Chicago

"Learned Hand earned a place among the great jurists of his age, worthy of comparison with the likes of Holmes, Brandeis, and Cardozo. This collection of letters helps us understand what a remarkable man he was. Reading these letters places us at the elbow of a man of uncommon erudition, a philosopher constantly asking questions about the world around him, a master of style and language. We are admitted to an age when letters, in the right hands, were essays on the human condition, on the great issues of the time. Dip into this book anywhere, and you will quickly be drawn into an evening of wit and wisdom."
--A.E. Dick Howard, White Burkett Miller Professor of Law and Public Affairs, University of Virginia

"Read together, the correspondence of Learned Hand provide tremendous insight into the key constitutional and jurisprudential issues of the 20th century. They also give a real sense of the person who was one of the greatest judges in American history. In this impeccably organizes and presented volume, Constance Jordan has done a profound service for all who are interested in American law."
--Erwin Chemerinsky, Dean and Distinguished Professor of Law, University of California, Irvine School of Law