Bernard-Henri Lévy (born November 5, 1948 in Béni Saf, Algeria) is a French public intellectual and journalist. Often referred to today, in France, simply as BHL, he was one of the leaders of the "Nouvelle Philosophie" (New Philosophy) movement in 1976.
Lévy was born to a Jewish family in Béni Saf, Algeria on 5 November 1948. His family moved to Paris a few months after his birth. His father, André Lévy, was the multi-millionaire founder and manager of a timber company, Becob.
After attending the Lycée Louis-le-Grand in Paris, Levy enrolled in the elite and highly selective École Normale Supérieure in 1968, from which he graduated with a degree in philosophy. Some of his professors there included prominent French intellectuals and philosophers Jacques Derrida and Louis Althusser. Lévy is also a pre-eminent journalist, having started his career as a war reporter for Combat, the famous underground newspaper founded by Camus during the Nazi occupation of France. In 1971, he traveled to the Indian subcontinent, and was in Bangladesh covering the war of independence against Pakistan. This experience was the source of his first book, Bangla-Desh, Nationalisme dans la révolution ("Bangla-Desh, Nationalism in the Revolution"), which was published in 1973.
Returning to Paris, Levy became famous as the young founder of the New Philosophers (Nouveaux Philosophes) school. This was a group of young intellectuals who were disenchanted with communist and socialist responses to the near-revolutionary upheavals in France of May 1968, which articulated a fierce and uncompromising moral critique of Marxist and socialist dogmas years prior to the collapse of the Soviet Union. Throughout the 1970s, Levy taught a course on epistemology at the Université de Strasbourg and philosophy at the École Normale Supérieure. It was in 1977, on the television show Apostrophes, that Lévy was presented, alongside André Glucksmann, as a nouveau philosophe. In the very same year he published Barbarism with a Human Face (La barbarie à visage humain), arguing that Marxism was inherently corrupt.
In 1981 Levy published L'Idéologie française ("The French Ideology"), arguably his most influential work.
Levy is married to French actress Arielle Dombasle. His eldest daughter by his first marriage to Isabelle Doutreluigne, Justine Lévy, is a bestselling novelist. He also has a son, Antonin-Balthazar Lévy, by his second wife, Sylvie Bouscasse. He is a member of the Selection Committee of the Editions Grasset, and he runs the La Règle du Jeu ("The Rule of the Game") magazine. He writes weekly a column in the magazine Le Point and chairs the Conseil de Surveillance of La Sept-Arte.
When his father André died in 1995, Levy became the manager of the Becob company, until it was sold in 1997 for 750 million francs to the French entrepreneur François Pinault.
In September 2008, Levy made an American book tour to promote Left in Dark Times: A Stand Against the New Barbarism.
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