How do we explain what Perry Anderson has called the "bizarre prominence of Bernard-Henri Levy, far the best-known 'thinker' under sixty in the country?" Anderson continues: "It would be difficult to imagine a more extraordinary reversal of national standards of taste and intelligence than the attention accorded this crass booby in France's public sphere, despite innumerable demonstrations of his inability to get a fact or an idea straight. Could such a grotesque flourish in any other major Western culture today?" This book, based on a careful investigation comparing BHL's words with his deeds, seeks to explore the remarkable persistence of this celebrity pseudo-philosopher since he burst onto the scene in 1977. Delving into his networks in the spheres of politics, the media and big business, Lindgaard and de la Porte suggest what the success of this three-decade long imposture indicates about the degeneration of contemporary French intellectual and cultural life.
JADE LINDGAARD is a journalist for the news site Mediapart, and she coedited La France Invisible, with Stephane Beaud and Joseph Confavreux (2006); XAVIER DE LA PORTE is a journalist for the radio station France Culture.