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In the credit economy that became a defining feature of nineteenth-century culture, mendacity and money form an especially dangerous combination. In such a context, forgery represents one of the worst kinds of lies. “A crime of the first magnitude,” forgery enacts a violation on several fronts: it signifies a transgression against property, identity, the authority of law, the nation-state, and the economic system. It is a crime therefore deserving of the harshest of punishments. As our anonymous writer suggests in the epigraph above, such an act violates those things so sacred to society’s moral and economic underpinnings that it can only be washed away by blood.
KeywordsNineteenth Century Eighteenth Century Great Expectation Illegitimate Child Capital Offense
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