Osgoode Hall Law Journal


Sarah Mackenzie

Document Type

Book Note


WHAT IS THE HISTORY OF THE TERMS international and globalization? How have they evolved, and what is their relevance? These are the questions Christopher N. Warren attempts to answer in Literature & the Law of Nations. Warren explores how the modern concept of law of nations has evolved and developed, tracing how it has passed from one age, culture, or language to the next. Warren argues the law of nations has evolved through literature, and that the recurrence of key words can be used to explore its roots. By examining literary works through the ages, the historical meaning of “nation” can be assessed and explained. Using works by Milton, Hobbes, Shakespeare, Grotius, and others, Warren demonstrates how genres (epic, tragicomedy, history, biblical tragedy) organized persons, actions, events, and evidence into recognizable, modern legal categories. Over seven chapters, Warren analyzes the relationship between literature produced in the 16th and 17th centuries and the development of national and international concepts in law. The first chapter establishes a broad rationale for a literary history of international law. Warren dissects the meaning of international, acknowledging the historic importance of the plurality of nations to explore its challenges and possibilities, so that readers can better understand the “early modern nexus of law and literature.”2

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