Document Type



Final Published Version

Publication Title

New Literary History



Publication Date



This article draws on Derrida's account of economic history in Given Time I: Counterfeit Money to show that he is indebted to an economist he does not mention at all, Milton Friedman. Derrida calls for an investigation of the literary consequences of the "dematerialization of money" and proceeds to give his own version of this history by examining a Baudelaire story from 1864 and an economic treatise from 1925. Those texts may mark moments in economic history, but the dematerialization of money which Derrida sees in them is almost entirely a middle twentieth-century development, finalized in the demise of the international gold standard at about the same time Derrida was writing his essay. The economist most responsible for the "dematerialization of money" is Milton Friedman, who in the 1950's proposed a rather Derridean theory of money as a non-referential sign system, describing money as a "fiction" which "veils" its own fictionality. Connecting economic developments to literary theory has implications for the history of literary forms: the shift from Keynesian to Monetarist economics mirrors the shift from modernism to postmodernism.