Monday, October 24, 2022

People "whose papers are wrong" in Charles Dickens's "Little Dorrit" (1857)

In Charles Dickens's "Little Dorrit" (1857), which takes place "thirty years ago" in Marseille, the murderer Monsieur Rigaud complains about being in prison "with a poor little contraband trader, whose papers are wrong",  who was arrested after he had loaned his boat to "other little people whose papers are wrong". In my re-reading of the novel as part of my project of reading or re-reading all of Dickens's novels, I was struck by the idea of people having the wrong papers appearing in roughly the middle of the nineteenth century. I would have thought that the figures of stateless people and sans papiers only began to emerge in the twentieth cenutry. (Andrew Shields, #111words, 24 October 2022)

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