The PJ Tatler

RIP Christopher Hitchens, 1949–2011

Vanity Fair has the awful news:

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.

Via Ace who adds, “I guess I can mention this:”

I saw him last year at Union Station. His hair was thinning from cancer treatment.

He was outside, smoking. Puffing away.

Something about his defiant character in that, I guess. Or foolishness. Or both.


Related: On the PJM homepage back in late June, Kyle Smith reviewed The Quotable Hitchens: From Alcohol to Zionism, a terrific anthology of Hitchens’ best bon mots and aphorisms on a whole host of subjects, which is searchable in its Kindle version for any blogger who needs a quick quote from Hitch on any topic imaginable. Sadly, I believe that will be the last book published featuring Hitchens’ writing while Hitch was still alive. And don’t miss Brendan Bernhard’s August 2010 article for PJM on “Hitchens’ Example to America,” particularly it’s all too often feckless media.