Christopher Hitchens, 19492011

Ken Morgan

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http://www.vanityfair.com/online/daily/2011/12/In-Memoriam-Christopher-Hitchens-19492011







In Memoriam: Christopher Hitchens, 1949–2011

11:45 PM, December 15 2011

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By Gasper Tringale.




Christopher Hitchens—the incomparable critic, masterful rhetorician, fiery wit, and fearless bon vivant—died today at the age of 62. Hitchens was diagnosed with esophageal cancer in the spring of 2010, just after the publication of his memoir, Hitch-22, and began chemotherapy soon after. His matchless prose has appeared in Vanity Fair since 1992, when he was named contributing editor.

“Cancer victimhood contains a permanent temptation to be self-centered and even solipsistic,” Hitchens wrote nearly a year ago in Vanity Fair, but his own final labors were anything but: in the last 12 months, he produced for this magazine a piece on U.S.-Pakistani relations in the wake of Osama bin Laden’s death, a portrait of Joan Didion, an essay on the Private Eye retrospective at the Victoria and Albert Museum, a prediction about the future of democracy in Egypt, a meditation on the legacy of progressivism in Wisconsin, and a series of frank, graceful, and exquisitely written essays in which he chronicled the physical and spiritual effects of his disease. At the end, Hitchens was more engaged, relentless, hilarious, observant, and intelligent than just about everyone else—just as he had been for the last four decades.

“My chief consolation in this year of living dyingly has been the presence of friends,” he wrote in the June 2011 issue. He died in their presence, too, at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas. May his 62 years of living, well, so livingly console the many of us who will miss him dearly.
 

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"Christopher just swam against every tide. He was supporting the Polish and Czech resistance in the 1970s.
He supported Mrs. Thatcher because he thought getting rid of the Argentinian fascist junta was a good idea.
... He was a cross between Voltaire and Orwell.

"He would drink a bottle of whisky when I would manage two glasses of wine and then be up in the morning writing 1,000 perfect words.
He could throw words up into the sky and they fell down in a marvelous pattern." — British lawmaker Denis Macshane told BBC radio.


— "Right at the very end, when he was at his most feeble as this cancer began to overwhelm him, he insisted on a desk by the window away from his bed at the ICU. It took myself and his son to get him into that chair with a pole and eight lines going into his body, and there he was, a man with only a few days to live, turning out 3,000 words to meet a deadline.

And then finishing it and thinking, well maybe I've got an hour or two, I'll write something on Memorial Day in English poetry." — Novelist Ian McEwan told BBC.
 

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