Book Reviews

The title of this brilliant little volume might, more accurately, have been, “The Spirits of the Common Law,” for it depicts the common law as the battleground of many conflicting spirits, from which a few relatively permanent ideas and ideals have emerged triumphant. As a whole, the book is a pluralistic-idealistic interpretation of legal history. Idealistic, because Dean Pound finds that the fundamentals of the ‘common law have been shaped by ideas and ideals rather than by economic determinism or class struggle; he definitely rejects a purely economic interpretation of legal history, although he demands a sociological one (pp. io-ii). Pluralistic, because, unlike those nineteenth-century philosophers who tried to make legal history stand for the unfolding of a single idea-rational will (Hegel), popular spirit (Savigny, Puchta)-Dean Pound finds a number of ideas which have contributed to the spirit of the common law.