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A Life of H.L.A Hart : The Nightmare and the Noble Dream - Nicola Lacey

A Life of H.L.A Hart

The Nightmare and the Noble Dream

Hardcover Published: 1st October 2004
ISBN: 9780199274970
Number Of Pages: 448

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Herbert Lionel Adolphus Hart was born in Yorkshire in 1907 to second generation Jewish immigrants. Having won a scholarship to Oxford University, he went on to become the most famous legal philosopher of the twentieth century. From 1932-40 H.L.A Hart practised as a barrister in London. He was pronounced physically unfit for military service in 1940, and was recruited by MI5, where he worked until 1945. During his time at the Bar he had continued to study philosophy and at M15 his interest was further stimulated by his philosopher colleagues in M16, Stuart Hampshire and Gilbert Ryle. After the war, Hart returned to Oxford to take up a philosophy fellowship, later to become Professor of Jurisprudence.H.L.A Hart single-handedly reinvented the philosophy of law and influenced the nation's thinking in the 1960s on abortion, the legalization of homosexuality, and on capital punishment. Hart's approach to legal philosophy was at once disarmingly simple and breathtakingly ambitious, combining as it did the insights of Austin and Bentham and the new linguistic philosophy of J.L. Austin and Ludwig Wittgenstein. He sought to elucidate a concept of law which would be of relevance to all forms of law, wherever or whenever they arose: his bestselling book, The Concept of Law, has sold tens of thousands of copies worldwide.In 1941, he married Jenifer Williams (a high-ranking civil servant, later an Oxford academic) with whom he had four children. Their relationship was an enduring if unconventional one. In the early 1950s, Jenifer was rumoured to be having a long-standing affair with Isaiah Berlin, one of Hart's closest friends. She was also, falsely, accused by the Sunday Times of having been a Russian spy, an allegation which was all the more scandalous given Hart's position at MI5 during the War.Nicola Lacey draws on Hart's previously unpublished diaries and letters to reveal a complex inner life. Outwardly successful, Hart was in fact tormented by doubts about his intellectual abilities, his sexual identity and his capacity to form close relationships. Her biography also sheds fascinating light on the origins of his ideas, and assesses his overall contribution. Above all, it chronicles of a life which had a depth ands impact far greater than many of Hart's readers have realized.

[Lacey's] biography of the greatest legal philosopher since Jeremy Bentham is worthy of its illustrious subject. It is an excellent, gripping piece of work that sheds valuable light on the life of Hart and the lives of many of his contemporaries...An abundance of fasinating material in Lacey's book...One of the many virtues of Lacey's book is that it enhances one's respect for the greatness of Hart's philosophical work by revealing adroitly the emotional turmoil that Hart underwent in so many of his personal and intellectual endeavours...Lacey deserves considerable credit for highlighting the magnitude of Hart's achievements by setting them in the context of his troubled life. `Lacey paints a rich and valuable picture of postwar Oxford, displaying an insider's sensitivity to the quiet viciousness of academic politics.' Jonathan Derbyshire, FT Magazine, 11-12 Feb 2006 `Lacey has done a superb job. A highly readable narrative. Valuable achievement' London Review of Books `A book which brilliantly relates Hart's personal life to his academic achievements. Lacey has a remarkable ability to explain both the intellectual issues, his ideas about them, and the objections that have been raised by his views.' TLS `By unravelling a life the intensity and gravity of which no one, not even his wife and colleagues, had imagined... Lacey's biography sheds new light on the origins and the depth of Hart's work... A life of H.L.A Hart is a concise and extremely well organized biography irrispite of being a very rich and full one... In spite of its dense content, the biography's prose is clear and fluent throughout, in a style of which Hart would have approved, and this makes it extremely enjoyable to read.' Samantha Besson, German Law Journal `In retrospect of what [Lacey] found in Hart's diaries, she seemed the perfect person to take on his biography... she tried to "bring alive on the page the complicated, very human man whom so many readers of his academic work think of as impersonal icon.' Samantha Besson, German Law Journal `This fascinating and touching biography's secret lies in a unique intergenerational encounter that turned into a rich, albeit posthumous, human relationship between one of the twentieth century's most brilliant legal philosophers and a younger fellow jurisprude who is most probably one of the most perceptive feminist legal theorists of her generation.' Samantha Besson, German Law Journal `And the wonderful thing is Professor Lacey never sells Hart's ideas short, never underestimates the content of his work both as a jurist and as a public intellectual even while she brings his family, his circle of friends, and his personality to life. We end up learning as much about secondary rules in the law as we learn about wartime espionage and the lucid prose of this biography makes them both into an enjoyable and profitable experience.' Jeremy Waldron, Maurice and Hilda Friedman Professor of Law and Director of the Center for Law and Philosophy, Columbia University

List of illustrations Acknowledgments Biographer's Note on Approach and Sources Introduction: An Outsider on the Inside Part I: North and South 1: Harrogate, Cheltenham, Bradford 2: An Oxford Scholar 3: Success Snatched from Defeat: London and the Bar Part II: Change and Continuity 4: Jenifer 5: From the Inns of Court to Military Intelligence: MI5, Marriage, and Fatherhood 6: Oxford from the Other Side of the Fence Part III: The Golden Age 7: Selling Philosophy to the Lawyers: The Chair of Jurisprudence 8: American Jurisprudence through English Eyes: Harvard 1956-7 9: Law in the Perspective of Philosophy: Causation in Law, The Concept of Law 10: West and East, California and Israel: Law, Liberty, and Morality; Kelsen Visited; The Morality of the Criminal Law 11: Discipline, Punishment, and Responsibility Part IV: After the Chair 12: Old Turks and Young Fogeys: Bentham and Brasenose 13: The Nightmare and the Noble Dream Notes Bibliography: HLA Hart Bibliography: Other authors List of Interviewees Biographical details on figures appearing in the book

ISBN: 9780199274970
ISBN-10: 0199274975
Audience: General
Format: Hardcover
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 448
Published: 1st October 2004
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 24.2 x 16.5  x 3.0
Weight (kg): 0.85