THE TESTAMENT OF GOD by Bernard-Henri LÉvy


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Another anti-totalitarian blast (see his earlier Barbarism with a Human Face) from the brilliant but highly erratic M. LÉvy, a passionate libertarian manifesto full of oracular mutterings and transparent blague. Like many Frenchmen of his generation (LÉvy is 32, and obviously haunted by the Revolution of '68), he feels trapped between the Scylla of the Right and the Charybdis of the Left. He has no coherent political program and deeply distrusts people who do, but he needs to affirm his individuality amidst a dehumanized society, even if it means shattering every received idea in sight. The object of LÉvy's hatred is an ill-defined group he calls the new pagans--murderous worshippers, like the Nazis, of barbarous abstractions, ""the Earth, the Race, the Blood, the People,"" etc. To counter these modern-day idolaters, he exalts Jewish monotheism and the moral code of the Prophets. LÉvy himself doesn't believe in God (and argues, in fact, that the ""first experience of Hebrew man is. . . the radical non-existence of Him whom he calls his Lord""), but he thinks that some such radically transcendent principle as Yahweh is necessary to safeguard the freedom and integrity of the human race. By constantly deracinating his people, by relativizing the lethal absolutes of racial, territorial, tribal, etc. identity, by resolutely standing above and beyond history, the God of Israel becomes man's best defense against Stalags, Gulags, and other monstrous incarnations of the State. In promoting this cockeyed Hebraism, LÉvy wages a spirited campaign against Hellenism (""the incapacity of the Greeks to think about or represent time, and thus to think about personal history"") that begins in the sophomoric and ends in the absurd. LÉvy, one hopes, will eventually grow out of all this and put his considerable talents to better use.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1980
Publisher: Harper & Row