Filed under: Literary Hoaxes
Submitted by W.J. Elvin III and André Gattolin:
The greatest literary hoax ever?
by John Crace
10 February 2010
A French philosopher has been caught out by a literary prank. But it’s nothing on the tale of the forgotten artist Nat Tate
La Rive Gauche rigole. Bernard-Henri Levy, France’s loudest voice of the 1970s school of nouveaux philosophes, who rarely appears on TV with his shirt buttoned beyond the waist, has been had. In his latest book, On War In Philosophy, BHL, as he is generally known, had a pop at Immanuel Kant, calling him “raving mad'” , saying that the little-known French philosopher, Jean-Baptiste Botul, had proved that once and for ” . . . in his series of lectures to the neo-Kantians of Paraguay, that their hero was an abstract fake, a pure spirit of pure appearance”.
Only it was Botul who was the fake, the invention of a French journalist Frederic Pages. There were clues. Botul’s supposed great work was The Sex Life of Immanuel Kant and his school of thought, Botulism. Not to mention a Wikipedia entry describing Botul as a fictional French philosopher. But BHL managed to miss all this and now he has been caught out, he has pulled the philosophical two-step of claiming, “Hats off for this invented-but-more-real-than-real Kant, whose portrait, whether signed Botul, Pages or John Smith, seems to be in harmony with my idea of a Kant who was tormented by demons that were less theoretical than it seemed”. But no one’s falling for this one.
Literature is fertile ground for hoaxers and people wanting to try it on. (more…)