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Philosopher on the Trail of Daniel Pearl's Killer

Bernard-Henri Lévy does nothing that goes unnoticed. He is an intellectual adventurer who brings publicity to unfashionable political causes. He is also a handsome man married to a glamorous actress; he and his wife, Arielle Dombasle, are regularly mentioned in French gossip magazines. Now 55, Mr. Lévy is well used to celebrity. For 25 years he has been known here simply by his initials, B. H. L. Not that everyone takes him seriously. His carefully cultivated public persona, which includes black suits, unbuttoned white shirts and long, dark hair, is frequently mocked on a televised puppet show, and he is often hit with pies by a Belgian who claims to target the self-important. The satirical weekly Le Canard Enchaîné once asked of him, “Rimbaud or Rambo?” Yet France has always had a place for high-profile intellectuals, from Victor Hugo and Émile Zola to Jean-Paul Sartre and André Malraux. And from an early age, Mr. Lévy set off in their footsteps. He earned his spurs in the late 1970’s as one of several “new philosophers” who enraged the left by attacking the Soviet Union. He then turned his guns on the right, warning that 1930’s-style fascism was still rooted in French politics. Since then he has constantly been in the limelight. He has tried his hand at fiction, theater and movies (although his only feature film to date, “Day and Night,” starring his wife, was a flop). And he has continued to campaign for what he considers noble causes, from Bangladesh to Cambodia, from Afghanistan to Bosnia. In a book published in 2001, for instance, he wrote of forgotten wars in Sudan, Angola, Burundi, Sri Lanka and Colombia. Full Story

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