Teixeira de Freitas leitor de Savigny
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The international circulation and reception of the works of Friedrich Carl von Savigny (1779-1861) constitute one of the main features of the first globalization of legal thought. Reaching law professors and practitioners from Brazil to Japan, readings of Savigny’s books offer a promising perspective for understanding how legal cultures around the world coped with the challenges of modernity. By focusing empirically on the circulation of books and analytically on the adaptation of texts to local contexts, the approach forwarded here tries to capture the creative aspects of the diffusion of knowledge. For this purpose, it concentrates on Brazilian readers of Savigny in the 19th Century, especially on the celebrated lawyer Augusto Teixeira de Freitas (1816-1883). It argues that Savigny’s works provided a decisive argumentative framework for some of the main issues discussed in Brazilian jurisprudence of the time. Freitas’ work documents a productive reading of Savigny that shaped his views on both normative and methodological issues, from slavery to codification. By tracing Freitas’ selective appropriation of Savigny’s texts, the article concludes that he was able both to reproduce and to subvert Savigny’s conception of private law, whenever the local context and his personal convictions demanded him to.