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Survey Article


Who can be wise, amazed, temperate and furious, Loyal and neutral, in a moment? No man.
—William Shakespeare, Macbeth, act 2, sc. 3 (Signet Classic ed., Signet Books 1963) (1606).

Macbeth may have feigned this plight as he covered up his foul murder of King Duncan, but it precisely describes the survey writer's dilemma. Some of the legal theories advanced in survey period cases were as arcane as the contents of the witches' cauldron. Some of the holdings were as unsettling as Banquo's ghost at the feast? And, as always, the accumulation of cases was as inexorable as Birnam Wood's advance to Dunsinane. In our endeavor to carve out the decisions of significance, we have perforce wielded a hand as bloody as that of the evil Lady Macbeth herself. If the result is less than Shakespearean, perhaps the reader will yet find enough drama herein to refrain from according it Macbeth's own grim self-epitaph: "[Ilt is a tale/Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury/Signifying nothing."

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