This post is part of the Art as Gift project.
Jacques Derrida’s Given Time: 1. Counterfeit Money is structured over four chapters. Chapters one and two consider the gift. Chapters three and four are organised around interpreting Baudelaire’s short tale Counterfeit Money. Derrida describes the 84 pages leading up to this analysis, as “a long introduction, with many detours.” (85) Even then he still takes his time, he starts by skimming the borders, the “framing features” of the story. Considering first its title, and then the dedication of the book, Paris Spleen, of which Counterfeit Money is but an “excised morsel.” (87)
Counterfeit Money, overview
The story is a first person account, in which the narrator and his friend encounter a beggar, to whom the friend gives a two-franc coin, before confessing, to the narrator, that the coin was counterfeit. Surmising that his aim was to “pick up the certificate of a charitable man” on the cheap, the narrator refuses to forgive his friend. While it is never excusable to be mean, “the most irreparable of vices is to do evil out of stupidity.”