Gentlemen's Agreement

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Gentlemen's Agreement

Although agreements between individuals often create legally binding commitments, instances may arise in which mutual promises yield no legally enforceable agreement. Sometimes called "gentlemen's agreements," parties may honor them because moral obligations compel observance or because future relations will be more difficult if the present arrangement is broken. International organizations likewise may depend on such informal arrangements so as to maintain comity among members.

Occasionally the enabling treaties that create an international organization will leave some procedural or voting matter unresolved. Rather than amend the formal document, which is usually a difficult task, an informal working agreement will develop to resolve a particular problem. As long as the consensus holds to honor the informal agreement, there is no need to embody it into a legal document.

West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
To explain the skepticism that Hobson confronted and what it signified about American sensibilities regarding anti-Semitism, I will turn now to the epistolary conversation that Hobson engaged in when she began work on Gentlemans Agreement. Here, we find that Hobson met resistance where she had expected support, as friends, such as Dorothy Thompson and publisher Richard Simon, attempted to warn her away from a theme they perceived as too controversial.
Earning a livelihood had been a spur to productivity since her teenage years, and these responsibilities continued to impel Hobson in the writing of Gentlemans Agreement. Simon's eagerness for a best seller may have encouraged Hobson's belief in this possibility, too.
Despite the fact that Gentlemans Agreement rarely receives more than a line or two of mention in scholarly accounts of postwar Jewish literature, it is a text that ably demonstrates the power that popular novels wield in shaping cultural sensibilities.
(6.) Laura Hobson, Gentlemans Agreement (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1947), 34.
Mashey Bernstein makes this point about Gentlemans Agreement. Bernstein writes that the novel "joins those few works of literature, for example, Zolas 'J'Accuse,' to which it bears a social sensibility, which can be said to have altered the social and moral fabric of a nation" (Mashey Bernstein, "Laura Hobson," in Contemporary Jewish American Novelists: A Bio-Critical Sourcebook, ed.
(27.) As Matthew Frye Jacobson has observed, Gentlemans Agreement "offers a unique snapshot of the contest in the mid-twentieth century between a waning racial order that identified Jews as 'Semites' or 'Hebrews,' and the waxing order by which their status as 'Caucasians' would become more salient" (Matthew Frye Jacobson, "Becoming Caucasian: Vicissitudes of Whiteness in American Politics and Culture," Identities: Global Studies in Culture and Power 8, no.