The Gift of Memory in Baudelaire’s “Morale du joujou”


Previous readers of “Morale du joujou,” such as Giorgio Agamben, Philippe Bonnefis and Anne-Emmanuelle Berger, have emphasized the erotic and fetishistic elements of Baudelaire’s depiction of the child at play. Focusing instead on the mnemonic questions raised by his text, this essay examines how Panckoucke’s gift of a “souvenir” ties together the logic of memorialization with that of donation. In conversation with the work of Walter Benjamin and Jacques Derrida, it explores how Baudelaire’s essay is invested in thinking the conditions that make memory possible, and in turn how the play of the toy and gift, (but also the gift of the toy) become essential to a thinking of the event of memory.

Adam R. Rosenthal
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