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Afterword (In Honor of Charles Black), 95 Yale Law Journal 1787 (1986)


What can one say of Charles Black that hasn't already been said? He is one of only two people I have known who is properly described as a genius. That term is much overused. It rarely fits even the exceedingly intelligent people to whom it is applied. Correctly used, it implies extraordinary ability in any number of widely diverse fields—like law, but also poetry, literature, art, music, and theater. It connotes dazzling speed—like the incredible ability to write a major, and magnificent, book over a weekend, or a great treatise . . . in three weeks! But most of all, genius entails the capacity to see things differently from others, and to be able to describe the insights derived with such power that thereafter others will have to start from that viewpoint, however much they may disagree with it.

Charles, of course, has all of these qualities, but these qualities are not all of Charles. Genius cannot explain his life-long passion for justice and his willingness, no, need to dedicate himself to it.

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