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French Philosopher Duped by Fake Thinker

French intellectual and media darling Bernard-Henri Levy was duped into citing the work of a made-up philosopher in his latest book, which appeared on Wednesday.

In "De la Guerre en Philosophie" ("Of War in Philosophy"), Levy cited a quotation from a book ostensibly written by Jean-Baptiste Botul, a fictional creation of journalist Frederic Pages.

The gaffe, which was revealed by the Web site of Le Nouvel Observateur newsweekly this week, sparked a storm of Internet posts poking fun at Levy, France's superstar intellectual par excellence.

Levy himself acknowledged his mistake, owning up to the error with lighthearted grace.

"I learned today through the Internet ... it was a hoax," he told Canal Plus television on Monday. Levy congratulated Pages, saying he had long found his 1999 book "La Vie Sexuelle d'Emmanuel Kant" (The Sexual Life of Emmanuel Kant) - penned under the pseudonym Botul - "marvelous."

"Vive Frederic Botul, vive Frederic Pages," Levy concluded, mixing up the names of the journalist and his creation.

In Wednesday's Le Canard Enchaine, Pages, who writes for the satirical weekly, gently scolded Levy, saying "in two mouse clicks on the Internet, anyone can learn that Botul is 'a fictitious character.'"

Pages has written several books under the name Botul, including one on French serial killer Henri-Desire Landru entitled "Landru, Feminist Precursor."

Levy, with his trademark wind-swept hairstyle, perma-tan and starched white shirt left largely unbuttoned, is an instantly recognizable public figure. He is known as much for his jet-setting lifestyle as for his work.

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