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Is law mankind's triumph over the vicious and chaotic state of nature? Or is law a product of power and self-interest? In this major work of cultural and legal theory, Paul Kahn argues that both views are aspects of a Judaeo-Christian legacy in which the virtues of law are always challenged by a love beyond law. Kahn offers a powerful new interpretation of Shakespeare's King Lear, reading it as a meditation on political psychology, on the demands that politics makes upon the soul. The play, he contends, juxtaposes the necessities of love to those of the state, and finds only incommensurability. Neither law nor love can include the other, but neither can exist without the other. Law and Love: The Trials of King Lear shows us what interdisciplinary work can achieve. The book not only offers surprising new readings of all the major characters in the play; it also expands the horizons of literary studies by introducing the legal imagination. Kahn demonstrates that cultural studies must recognise law as a core element in the Western conception of self and community, and similarly that legal studies must include the broadest themes of Western culture.