Lévy, Benny

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LÉVY, BENNY (1945–2003), French thinker. Lévy was born in Cairo and studied at the petit lycée of the Cairo French high school until 1957. After the Suez crisis, the family left Egypt to settle in Brussels, giving up their Egyptian citizenship. In 1962 he came to Paris and was accepted at Ecole Nationale Supérieure (ens) as a stateless foreign student. He applied himself intensely to Marxist theory and the Chinese Cultural Revolution. In 1969, he founded with Alain Geismar and Serge July the movement 'La gauche prolétarienne,' inspired by Maoist ideas. Under the pseudonym of Pierre Victor, he clandestinely headed the group. The group and its organ, La cause du peuple, attracted leading intellectuals such as Jean-Paul Sartre, Gilles Deleuze, Michel Foucault, Jacques-Alain Miller, and Jean-Claude Milner. It dissolved in 1974, marking a period of doubt and questioning about revolutionary and political ideas for Lévy while he worked as Sartre's secretary in 1974–80. The period culminated with the publication of his interviews with Sartre as L'Espoir maintenant. Les entretiens de 1980 (1991; Hope Now: The 1980 Interviews, 1996). Sartre intervened with President Valery Giscard-d'Estaing, to get Lévy French nationality in 1975. Lévy discovered Emmanuel *Levinas in 1976, and under his influence began to study Hebrew. Between 1980 and 1984, he made Jewish texts and practices a part of his daily life. In 1984, Lévy moved to Strasbourg, continuing to teach at Paris vii, where he had begun in 1975, in the department of Sciences des textes et des documents. In Strasbourg he devoted himself to the study of Judaism. In 1995, he finally moved to Jerusalem, and there met his master, Levinas. He established a link with Paris vii, and in spring 1995 founded the Institut d'études lévinassiennes with Bernard-Henri *Lévy and Alain *Finkielkraut. Among his ten books are On a raison de se révolter (under the pen name Pierre Victor, 1974); Le logos et la lettre: Philon d'Alexandrie en regard des pharisiens (1988); Être juif (2003); La Confusion des temps (2004); La Cérémonie de la naissance (2005); and with Alain Finkielkraut, Le Livre et les livres (2006). He directed the Cahiers d'Études lévinassiennes, for which he also wrote the articles: "Philosophie de la Révélation? Schelling, Rosenzweig, Lévinas" (2 (2003), 283–383) and "Lévinas et le grec" (special Benny Lévy issue (2005), 195–275).

[Colette Olive (2nd ed.)]

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Lévy, Benny

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