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Inhaltsangabe: What Good Are Intellectuals was originally published in Paris as the 1998 edition of an annual series entitled The Rules of the Game: Literature, Philosophy, Art, and Politics, under the direction of Bernard Henri-Lévy.
The first half of the book offers essays by and about Paul Bowles, Marc Lambron, Michel Onfray, Gilles Hertzog, Wietske Venema, Cécile Guilbert, Yann Moix and William Styron.
In an intimate dialogue with some of the world's best minds, 44 of the world's most respected authors reflect on life, death and meaning through of essays, interviews and responses to the question, "What good are intellectuals?"
Essays include remarks by Wietske Venema on the eve of his suicide, and excerpts from Marc Lambron's journal detailing cultural pre-occupations in Paris from Egyptomania to astrology and gender issues. In the second half of the book writers from around the world ponder the role of the intellectual in society, whether a thinker and writer has specific responsibilities and what those might be, what effect such a person can hope to achieve and at what cost.
Compelling, stimulating ideas are presented in individual segments; this is a book that can be put down and picked up again like a conversation with a lifelong friend.
Paul Bowles is asked about Camus's observation that American writers were the only writers in the world who don t feel the need to be intellectuals as well.
"That s funny," he says.
"Do you agree with that definition?"
"Yes, yes, I do, because the Americans aren t capable of becoming intellectuals..." Nothing comfortable here!
They talk about drug use, death, anti-European sentiment in Algeria, and other conflicts, leading to Bowles' proposition that a monthly newspaper would be more than sufficient to keep abreast of what's important.
"This monthly, that would spare us all the details, what would it be? A summary of major events? What would be the ideal newspaper?"
"You read the newspaper to find out who is winning the war. There s always a war going on, and you have to keep track of it."
Finally, he observes: "If you are aware that life is absurd, you can tolerate it, because that which is absurd is tolerable."
Über den Autor: The editor, French intellectual Bernard-Henri Lévy, was one of the leaders of the "Nouvelle Philosophie" (New Philosophy) movement in Paris in 1976. He has been interviewed on Charlie Rose and his 30th book, American Vertigo, was serialized in Atlantic Monthly. As New York Magazine said in 2006, "Bernard-Henri Lévy took the first major step toward becoming BHL [as he is known] when he published the book Barbarism With a Human Face (1977), attacking his fellow intellectuals fascination with Marxism. It established the patterns of his life and notoriety: anti-totalitarian, internationalist, atheist, and what he calls anti-anti-American. ' His 31st book, Left in Dark Times: A Stand Against the New Barbarism, was released by Random House in September 2008.
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