Law and Literature in the Work of Robert Cover

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This Article argues that although Robert Cover seems to discount the role and the practical efficacy of literary texts within the context of legal interpretation, Cover’s work nevertheless discloses an extensive exploration of literature and of literary interpretation to frame his own legal interpretive practices. This is particularly the case regarding the development of his theory of law’s violence. The Article attempts to show that a close reading of Cover’s interpretation of literary texts in the service of his legal analyses discloses a buried theme pursuant to the violence of law: the threshold concept, between law and not-law, of the state of exception. The Article suggests that this concept is key to understanding Cover’s theory of law’s violence.