A Thousand Times More Fair
What Shakespeare's Plays Teach Us About Justice
By Kenji Yoshino
(Ecco, Hardcover, 9780061769108, 320pp.)
Publication Date: April 2011
Other Editions of This Title: Paperback
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A provocative exploration of justice in our time through fresh readings of Shakespeare's greatest plays
Celebrated legal scholar Kenji Yoshino's first book, Covering, was acclaimedfrom the New York Times Book Review to O, The Oprah Magazine to the American Lawyerfor its elegant prose, its good humor, and its brilliant insights into civil rights and discrimination law. Now, in A Thousand Times More Fair, Yoshino turns his attention to the broad question of what makes a fair and just society, and he delves deep into a surprising source to answer it: Shakespeare's greatest plays.
An enormously creative and provocative book, A Thousand Times More Fair addresses fundamental questions we ask about our world today: Why is the rule of law better than revenge? How much mercy should we show a wrongdoer? What does it mean to "prove" guilt or innocence? As Yoshino argues, a searching examination of Shakespeare's playsand the many advocates, judges, criminals, and vigilantes who populate themcan elucidate some of the most troubling issues in contemporary life.
With a great ear for Shakespeare and an eye trained steadily on current affairs, Yoshino considers how competing models of judging presented in Measure for Measure resurfaced around the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor; how the revenge cycle of Titus Andronicus illuminates the "war on terror" and our military engagements in Afghanistan and Iraq; how the white handkerchief in Othello and the black glove in the O. J. Simpson trial reflect forms of proof that overwhelm all other evidence; and how the spectacle of an omnipotent ruler voluntarily surrendering power in The Tempest, as Cincinnatus did before him and George Washington did after him, informs regime change in our own time.
A Thousand Times More Fair is an altogether original book about Shakespeare and the law, and an ideal starting point to explore the nature of a just societyand our own.
Kenji Yoshino, Chief Justice Earl Warren Professor of Constitutional Law at New York University School of Law, is the author of the award-winning memoir Covering. He lives in New York City.
“A sensitive and lively mind work[s] its way through the legal themes in some of the most beautiful passages in English literature.”
“[An] insightful inquiry into the contemporary relevance of the Bard’s vision of justice. . . . A refreshing reminder that questions of justice may lead to dramatic poetry, not legal jargon.”
-Booklist (starred review)
“Readers will find Yoshino provocative, often controversial, and Shakespeare, as always, entertaining.”
“Neither a prosecutor nor a defense lawyer herein, Yoshino is a refreshingly engaging advocate for Shakespeare.”
-Newark Star Ledger
“[W]ell-informed by scholarship, nuanced and appealingly written. . . . [P]erhaps the most enlightening study of the subject to appear in a century.”
“In the enlightening and readable A Thousand Times More Fair, author Kenji Yoshino opens a window on Shakespearean dramaturgy and scholarship and lets in a breath of fresh air.”
-New York Journal of Books
“A remarkably imaginative and scholarly work. It reminds us that in Shakespeare’s time, like our own, the law and ideas of justice were in flux.”
“Fascinating. . . . Loaded with perceptive and provocative comments on Shakespeare’s plots, characters, and contemporary analogs.”
-Justice John Paul Stevens, Supreme Court of the United States
“Until Kenji Yoshino’s book, I had found little of value in ‘Law and Literature’ studies. He redeems the mode. Shakespeare, most capacious of souls, is shown by Yoshino to illuminate the vast and complex structures that must inform the role of law in our struggle for a just society.”
-Harold Bloom, author of SHAKESPEARE: THE INVENTION OF THE HUMAN
“Kenji Yoshino brings to his lively reading of the plays the full force of his passionate brooding on issues of justice in contemporary society. A THOUSAND TIMES MORE FAIR will appeal to anyone interested in the uses of great art to reflect on some of our culture’s most vexing problems.”
-Stephen Greenblatt, author of WILL IN THE WORLD
“Who knew that there was such a brilliant and fresh reading of Shakespeare waiting to be discovered? Only Kenji Yoshino, with a poet’s ear for language and a lawyer’s passion for justice, could have done it.”
-Carol Gilligan, University Professor, NYU
“The ingenious and well-argued premise of Kenji Yoshino’s new book is that justice in a form that we can understand and relate to modern concepts of legal justice is a pervasive theme of Shakespearean drama. . . . Shakespeare, in law as in so much else, remains our contemporary.”
-Judge Richard A. Posner