Talk about falling short of your aspirations! Of all the Justices on the Court today, I find that Justice Kennedy writes in the least straightforward style. Ah, well. At least he means well. Or is he conning us with this Hemingway talk?
The linked article — by Adam Liptak, in the NYT — links to this set of long recorded interviews with Supreme Court Justices about how they write and how they want lawyers to write.
Justice Ginsburg said she had learned much from a course Nabokov taught at Cornell on European literature.
“He was a man in love with the sound of words,” she said of her former professor. “He changed the way I read, the way I write.”
Justice Thomas, on the other hand, cited only a single author, and then only by way of contrast. “It’s not a mystery novel,” he said of a good brief. “People can’t think, ‘I’m Agatha Christie,’ or something like that.”Ginsburg and Nabokov. Thomas and Christie. What do you think of Liptak's juxtaposition? It's a literary device. Would you put it at the Nabokov level? The Christie level? Somewhere lower?ADDED: Both Nabokov and Agatha Christie are discussed in the Wikipedia article"Unreliable Narrator":
A controversial example of an unreliable narrator occurs in Agatha Christie's novel The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, where the narrator hides essential truths in the text (mainly through evasion, omission, and obfuscation) without ever overtly lying. Many readers at the time felt that the plot twist at the climax of the novel was nevertheless unfair....
Humbert Humbert, the main character and narrator of Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita, often tells the story in such a way as to justify his pedophilic fixation on young girls, in particular his sexual relationship with his 12-year-old stepdaughter....
Now, you want your judges and lawyers to be reliable narrators when they tell you about the facts of the case and interpret and apply the law. Thomas said don't be like Agatha Christie. You need to tell it straight. But Ginsburg said she learned from Nabokov, learned to love the sound of the words. Liptak — I think — intended to make Ginsburg look good and Thomas bad, but it didn't quite work out that way.