An Ode to Christopher Hitchens

Eulogies continue to pour in for Christopher Hitchens on the wake of his death on Thursday. He was a world-famous journalist, who wrote until his last breath. He was an Atheist and known for providing an alternate point of view, contrary to popular belief.

The British-born great had a desk set up in the intensive care unit and was continuously meeting deadlines with only a few days to live, according to his friend novelist Ian McEwan. He also added that he had to be helped onto a chair to work “with a pole and eight lines going into his body.” In-spite of his shortcomings, he still completed his piece and even had time to write an additional essay.

During the twilight of his life, after cancer had taken in most of his body, he insisted on having his desk by the window away from his bed at the ICU.

Notable literary figures, editors, politicians joined in paying homage to the writer and an epicurean in every sense. He had been fighting with a complex oesophageal cancer for over a year, which led to pneumonia ultimately ending his life.

His death was made public by his last employer, the magazine Vanity Fair.

“Christopher Hitchens – the incomparable critic, masterful rhetorician, fiery wit, and fearless bon vivant – died today at the age of 62,” it said.

In his biography “Hitch-22,” he mentioned he wanted to die fighting. Incidentally, Hitchens discontinued his book tour of the same book to undergo chemotherapy after he was diagnosed with cancer.

He poetically wrote in his book, “I personally want to ‘do’ death in the active and not the passive,” and daringly added, “and to be there to look it in the eye and be doing something when it comes for me.”

The son of a British naval officer, Hitchens was schooled in Oxford before he went to work for the New Statesman magazine in London, he later moved to New York in 1981. He became a correspondent for the magazine “The Nation” and settled down in Washington. He became an American citizen in 2007 retaining his British citizenship. He tragically passed away with friends at his bedside at the MD Anderson Cancer Centre in Houston.

“An extraordinary, compelling and colorful human being”- the former British Prime Minister, Tony Blair on his recollection of Hitchens.

“Goodbye, my beloved friend. A great voice falls silent. A great heart stops.” Salman Rushdie, the writer who was staunchly supported by Hitchens.

“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.” Denis MacShane, Britain’s Labor Party MP on his memory of Hitchens.

He is survived by his second wife, author Carol Blue, and three children.


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