The Impostor: BHL in Wonderland (Counterblasts)

The Impostor: BHL in Wonderland (Counterblasts)

Jade Lindgaard

Language: English

Pages: 288

ISBN: 1844677486

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

How do we explain what Perry Anderson calls “the bizarre prominence of Bernard-Henri Lévy,” easily the best-known “thinker” under sixty in France? “It would,” he continues, “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 reveal what the success of this three-decade long imposture tells us about the degeneration of contemporary French intellectual and cultural life.


















distinguishes him, in his own view, from all those intellectuals who at some time in their lives have found themselves ‘enrolled’ so comprehensively as to cloud their judgment. Bernard-Henri Lévy seeks to make out that having no connection with a particular party preserves him from a partisan outlook and bondage to the political authorities. In so doing he has invented a new form of ‘intellectual’: one who, desperate not to be here or there, is everywhere. One who despises the base backroom

more ambiguous and deeply buried: fear of the people, of justice, of rival power sources, of anything that might force an explanation, a reckoning of accounts. This discourse too helps to justify our undemocratic system. But structures, however dominant, are not the whole story. Bernard-Henri Lévy has not regularly escaped criticism for more than three decades simply because he has the president of the Republic’s mobile number and dines with captains of industry. It is also because he is

15Lévy, Ce grand cadavre à la renverse, p. 157. 16Bernard-Henri Lévy, ‘Dinner with Ségolène’, Wall Street Journal, 8 February 2007 (in French in Bernard-Henri Lévy, Pièces d’identité, Grasset, Paris, 2010, p. 977). 17Lévy, Ce grand cadavre à la renverse, p. 159 (JH trans). 18Lévy, ‘Dinner with Ségolène’ (Pièces d’identité, p. 92). 19Bacqué and Chemin, La Femme fatale, p. 161. 20The AFP cable announcing the appointment is dated 30 June 1993. 21Sophie Coignard, La Vendetta française, Albin

France’s biggest bookseller, regularly asks me for news. How idle are the customs officers of culture. How hard it is to get them to accept, basically, that there are everywhere free men, capable at times of being foreign to themselves and their destiny.63 Why was ‘that type of journalist’ so interested in BHL’s relations with François Pinault? Perhaps because he was surprised that an ‘intellectual’ in love with freedom could act with such eagerness and complacency as the relay for a big boss’s

after the ruined old dwellings there. ‘There isn’t the slightest indication or the slightest belief to connect them with some hypothetical Jewish presence,’ we were assured by Jérôme Tubiana, a researcher specializing in the region who since February 2011 has been a member of the UN panel of experts on Sudan.41 Similarly he cites the nickname given to the rebels, ‘Tora Bora’ (which he spells ‘Torah Bora’). The rebels themselves see it as a reference to the battle of Tora Bora in Afghanistan,

Download sample