H.L.A. Hart is probably the most important legal theorist in the modern English-speaking world. The intriguing subtitle of Nicola Lacey's intimate biography, "The Nightmare and the Noble Dream, " echoes the name of Hart's 1997 Georgia Law Review paper, in which he identifies two warring, equally inadequate, visions of law in American jurisprudence: the "nightmare" of complete indeterminacy and unbridled judicial discretion and the "noble dream " of a closed, deterministic legal system of judicial restraint. Lacey implies that Hart's life itself was both a nightmare and a noble dream. This book review expands on Lacey's work and suggests how both the most significant failing in Hart's theoretical work-namely his inability to formulate an adequate account of the "morality" that supposedly serves as law's defining other-as well as his passionate argument against what he perceived as the repressive "moralism " of conservative legalism, may reflect his internal personal struggles, particularly with respect to his repressed sexuality.
Jeanne L. Schroeder,
Beautiful Dreamer: Review of A Life of H.L.A. Hart: The Nightmare and the Noble Dream, by Nicola Lacey,
U. Colo. L. Rev.
Available at: https://scholar.law.colorado.edu/lawreview/vol77/iss3/8