"I personally want to ‘do’ death in the active and not the passive and to be there to look it in the eye and be doing something when it comes for me."Christopher Hitchens, like G.K. Chesterton, was one of the best polemicists of his day. Given his penchant for stridency, I frequently reacted against the moralistic lengths to which he took his arguments, but I was always impressed by his erudition and craft. He was a joy to read.
- Christopher Hitchens
Also like Chesterton, Hitchens had unconfronted dragons; his robust ego and his tendency to bully intellectual inferiors (as he too often did when wearing his New Atheist hat) were significant shortcomings, but they didn't stop me from relishing his work.
Hitchens died yesterday of pneumonia, at the age of 62, after a prolonged fight with esophageal cancer. Writers and readers should lower their flags to half mast.
For a nice collection of Hitchens' essays, visit Tablet's roundup, "Just Enough Hitch, For A Day."
Addendum: I opened this brief eulogy by likening Hitchens to Chesterton. Two days ago, when I wrote the above, I didn't realize that one of Hitchens' final deadlines was a review of the new biography of Chesterton by Ian Ker. I learned this fact in the course of reading Ian McEwan's moving tribute to Hitchens in the New York Times. For those who, like me, mourn the loss of a keen, energetic spirit and intellect, I can't recommend the McEwan piece enough.
Image credit: ripped from Philebrity.com