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Adventures on the Freedom Road: The French Intellectuals in the 20th Century 
by Bernard-Henri Lévy, translated by Richard Veasey.
Harvill, 434 pp., £20, December 1995, 1 86046 035 6
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The Imaginary Jew 
by Alain Finkielkraut, translated by Kevin O’Neill and David Suchoff.
Nebraska, 230 pp., £23.95, August 1994, 0 8032 1987 3
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The Defeat of the Mind 
by Alain Finkielkraut, translated by Judith Friedlander.
Columbia, 165 pp., $15, May 1996, 0 231 08023 9
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... to structuring their narratives around the post-Marx brothers of French intellectual life, Bernard-Henri Lévy and Alain Finkielkraut. This is not a case simply of contemporary thinkers being dwarfed by the giants of the past – the familiar lament about the decline of French intellectuals is rather unfair. The problem is that ...

The Terror Trail

Tariq Ali: The real story of Daniel Pearl, 20 May 2004

A Mighty Heart: The Brave Life and Death of My Husband, Daniel Pearl 
by Mariane Pearl.
Virago, 278 pp., £7.99, March 2004, 1 84408 126 5
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Who Killed Daniel Pearl? 
by Bernard-Henri Lévy.
Duckworth, 454 pp., £20, September 2003, 0 7156 3261 2
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... left of much of the liberal intelligentsia. In December 2001, at the Berlin Literature Festival, Bernard-Henri Lévy and Daniel Cohn-Bendit, the German Green MEP, berated the New York poet Eliot Weinberger and myself for opposing the bombing and occupation of Afghanistan. Lévy had told the Berlin audience that he was ...


Robert Walshe: Bumping into Beckett, 7 November 1985

... loafs by on a bicycle), d’Ormesson, Cartano, Genevieve Dormann, Michel Serres, Jean Dutourd and Bernard-Henri Lévy (Prix Bernard-Henri Lévy). My critics will think of me as a namedropper as distinct from a reader and writer of books, and there is an atom of truth in it: I am not saying which atom. But ...

Closely Missed Trains

Joanna Biggs: Florian Zeller’s Hair, 12 March 2009

Artificial Snow 
by Florian Zeller, translated by Sue Rose.
Pushkin, 119 pp., £10, January 2009, 978 1 901285 84 0
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Elle t’attend 
by Florian Zeller.
Flammarion, 154 pp., €12, September 2008, 978 2 08 120749 3
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... his plays (he’s written four) and won the Prix Interallié (whose other winners include Malraux, Bernard-Henri Lévy and Michel Houellebecq). He says his biggest regret is not being English, and indeed, despite his quickly achieved yet continuing fame in France, he is almost unknown here. In the opening pages of Artificial Snow, the narrator misses the ...

Short Cuts

Chase Madar: Human Rights Window Dressing, 2 July 2015

... ardently supported the invasion of Iraq in the name of humanitarian values. The inescapable Bernard-Henri Lévy was at the fore in demanding Nato go to war against Gaddafi. (Lévy has ‘moved on’ to other causes now that Libya is deep in chaos.) Human rights organisations have also been at it. Although it’s ...

Communiste et Rastignac

Christopher Caldwell: Bernard Kouchner, 9 July 2009

Le Monde selon K. 
by Pierre Péan.
Fayard, 331 pp., €19, February 2009, 978 2 213 64372 4
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... a bomb. Kouchner accused Péan of anti-semitism and rallied celebrity friends to defend him, from Bernard-Henri Lévy at home to Hillary Clinton and Kofi Annan abroad. Newspapers of the left – notably Libération – opened their columns to Péan, while Le Monde attacked his book. The news weekly Le Point conducted an independent investigation of ...

Short Cuts

Jeremy Harding: Who is François Hollande?, 13 September 2012

... Guardian interview – as he was by what he saw as Hollande’s other great mistake, a lunch with Bernard-Henri Lévy in a swanky restaurant near Fouquet’s – and he brought up the interview again, on 6 May, during the victory flight from Tulle that took Hollande to Paris for his Bastille moment. On the plane Hollande reviewed the Guardian ...

Under the Ustasha

Mark Mazower: Sarajevo, 1941-45, 6 October 2011

Sarajevo, 1941-45: Muslims, Christians and Jews in Hitler’s Europe 
by Emily Greble.
Cornell, 276 pp., £21.50, February 2011, 978 0 8014 4921 5
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... were not heroic defenders of Christian values but plotters of ethnic cleansing. Susan Sontag and Bernard-Henri Lévy felt it their duty to visit Sarajevo and publicise its plight. It was, as Sontag put it, the Spanish Civil War for her generation. Was this version any closer to reality than West’s? What the Victorians called the Eastern Question had ...

Come and see for yourself

David A. Bell: Tocqueville, 18 July 2013

Tocqueville: The Aristocratic Sources of Liberty 
by Lucien Jaume, translated by Arthur Goldhammer.
Princeton, 347 pp., £24.95, April 2013, 978 0 691 15204 2
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... tack from Tocqueville’s, and no present-day French author seems equal to the task (in 2006, Bernard-Henri Lévy published American Vertigo: Travelling America in the Footsteps of Tocqueville; it was an embarrassment even for him). It would also be wonderful to imagine a latter-day Tocqueville being able to write a book entitled ‘Democracy in ...


Peter Pomerantsev: Iammmmyookkraaanian, 19 February 2015

... seduction of big ideas was internationally infectious. Returning to my hotel lobby I encountered Bernard-Henri Lévy bathed in TV lights, giving an interview to a local network. BHL had just delivered a lecture at the local university about ‘Putinism as Fascism’: ‘Putin is frightened of the loss of traditional values and the principles of ...

Episteme, My Arse

Christopher Tayler: Laurent Binet, 15 June 2017

The Seventh Function of Language 
by Laurent Binet, translated by Sam Taylor.
Harvill Secker, 390 pp., £16.99, May 2017, 978 1 910701 58 4
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... isn’t perfunctory. Does the victim have any enemies? Sollers and Kristeva – flanked by Bernard-Henri Lévy, who has also showed up, as he does throughout the novel – indicate that he does. Who? ‘The Stalinists! The fascists! Alain Badiou! Gilles Deleuze! Pierre Bourdieu! Cornelius Castoriadis! … Um, Hélène Cixous!’ Bayard writes ...

Unfashionable Victims

Charles Simic, 31 July 1997

The Serbs: History, Myth and the Destruction of Yugoslavia 
by Tim Judah.
Yale, 368 pp., £19.95, April 1997, 0 300 07113 2
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... Oh those awful Serbs! Until recently no one cared or knew much about them in the West and now almost everyone has an opinion about them and it’s most likely to be unfavourable. Karadzic and Mladic – icons of inhumanity – are taken as embodiments of the soul of their people. Even before the wars in the former Yugoslavia started, American newspapers are offering analyses of the Serbs ...


Jenny Diski: Rape-Rape, 5 November 2009

... that she doesn’t want the matter pursued. Then I got twitchy when I read the petition written by Bernard-Henri Lévy, and signed by Paul Auster, Milan Kundera, William Shawcross, Claude Lanzmann, Salman Rushdie, Mike Nichols, Neil Jordan, and, to bring up the female numbers, Diane von Furstenberg, the Isabelles Adjani and Huppert, Yamani ...

Is there a Libya?

Issandr El Amrani, 28 April 2011

... safe bet, particularly when France unexpectedly recognised the Transitional National Council after Bernard-Henri Lévy persuaded Sarkozy to act quickly. Only a few years before, Sarkozy had given Gaddafi a warm welcome in Paris and, when criticised for it, pointed in his defence to Libya’s abandonment of its nuclear weapons programme, and, more ...

Can the law be feminist?

Lorna Finlayson, 25 January 2018

Butterfly Politics 
by Catharine MacKinnon.
Harvard, 490 pp., £23.95, April 2017, 978 0 674 41660 4
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... her warm friendship with the Hebrew University’. One of the people honoured alongside her was Bernard-Henri Lévy, the French philosopher and critic of ‘Islamic extremism’, who in an interview in 2006 distilled his objection to the wearing of the hijab: ‘The veil,’ because it conceals the all-important face, ‘is an invitation to rape.’ In ...

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