Notes on the polemicist’s unsettled legacy
Stop, stop, he's already dead!
"It’s an enviable style, but not an particularly original one. "
Never understood what was supposed to be so great about him. (I can be very rude too!) It always seemed fitting that Hitchens is Sullivan's idol given that Sullivan is a gibbering idiot.
maybe drunks never impressed me that much
The final years of Hitchens’s life ensure that his reputation will never stand on the same footing as that of Orwell, Baldwin or Didion. Hitchens was a man who achieved great commercial success by exploiting liberals’ resentment of the power of evangelical Christianity in American politics while simultaneously cheering on the catastrophic war of an evangelical president. It’s unforgivable. And yet, the dwindling of his cult of angry young men has allowed his early work to return to the fore. He’ll be remembered as a cautionary tale: a great essayist who was done in by prejudice and alcoholism.
Jeet, who is the authorized biographer of Hitchens?
I knew Chris a bit for many years and enjoyed his company (and great parties at his large DC apartment). What I most miss—and what I think accounts for his revival—is his acerbic voice, both in person and in his work. As you say, it wasn’t original but we don’t have anything like it in the culture today, and that’s too bad. Where we disagree, Jeet, is that much of his early and mid-career work is not contrarian at all, but leftwing cant that was very late to understanding the failures of Marxism.