UPDATED: Christopher Hitchens, Great Rhetorician & Writer, Dies At 62

English,Human Accomplishment,Intellectualism,Intelligence,Journalism,Left-Liberalism,Literature,Neoconservatism,The Zeitgeist

I can’t say that Christopher Hitchens had a philosophical core—he did not. Thus the attempts in this BBC tribute to imbue the stands Hitchens took over the years with nobility fall flat. However, the late Mr. Hitchens possessed a formidable intellect and was both a great rhetorician and writer. One can agree with the somewhat prosaic Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, who once worked as an intern for Hitchens.” Clegg said: “Christopher Hitchens was everything a great essayist should be: infuriating, brilliant, highly provocative and yet intensely serious.”

BBC News doesn’t divulge who dubbed Hitchens “a drink-sodden ex-Trotskyist popinjay.” BUT I can tell you it was MP George Galloway. The quaint “popinjay” coinage gives Galloway (what a character!) away. Besides, back in 2005, I had blogged about the delightful joust between Galloway and Hitchens, RIP. I am nothing if not consistent. Here is what I wrote at the time:

Now hold your horses, will you, because I also admire Christopher Hitchens as a stylist, conversationalist, and an extraordinary flyter. What is flyting, you ask? It’s an ancient Scottish form of invective, a true master of which is the MP George Galloway. I don’t care for his or Hitchens’ ever-shifting views, but I loved the flyting that flew between the two. Galloway called Hitchens a drink-sodden ex-Trotskyist popinjay. Hitchens responded over the pages of an august publication by likening the lickspittle praise Galloway once bestowed on him to spittle flung in place of argument. Later on, the two dueled deliciously on C-Span, where, I’m afraid, Hitchens proved his uncontested superiority in this spontaneous rhetorical art.

5 thoughts on “UPDATED: Christopher Hitchens, Great Rhetorician & Writer, Dies At 62

  1. Nebojsa Malic

    Eh. Hitchens could have used that considerable talent of his to do good in service of a cause he honestly believed in. But he had none of those; all his causes were fads, and all his considerable intellect and wit were ultimately wasted on angry diatribes against everything not Christopher Hitchens. I’m willing to wager you’ll leave a better lasting impression on the world.

  2. George Pal

    Mr. Hitchens might have demonstrated throughout his public life that he was capable of many a character flaw; and as many strengths. It seems, though, more than anything else, he would not have it said of himself that he was ‘nice’; so much so that he adopted the guise of the enfant terrible, complete with vitriol, to dissuade anyone from thinking as much. I think it was a put up job – he tried too hard; he was not utterly convincing in that role.

  3. Sean D'Anconia

    I loved him. Didn’t always agree, but what a witty, agressive, brilliant bastard he was. I hope they remember me in the same way.

  4. Trilby

    I always found CH offputting. TC sounds like the real thing, tho: an intellectual w excellent values.

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