Christopher Hitchens, 1949-2011
9:21 AM, Dec 16, 2011 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
I wasn’t a close friend of Christopher Hitchens—more like a friendly acquaintance—but he was so outsized a presence, had so fertile a mind, was gifted with such a bold personality, and was altogether so much larger than life that I already feel his loss deeply. I lack the gifts to convey what Christopher was like, and will defer to others who will undoubtedly do this with great skill. But in looking this morning, in a melancholy mood, at our email exchanges over the last year or so, I thought this one—perhaps precisely because it’s about nothing at all grand—captures something of his flair and spirit. Here’s Christopher, writing late in the evening of February 9, 2011:
Matt Labash closes his remembrance with a few lines from Wilfred Owen, ones Christopher sent him shortly after Michael Kelly died, and comments that “Hitchens would probably shudder with horror and humility that I’d dare apply them to this occasion.” Christopher would probably shudder at my mawkishness (and would also mock my limited poetic range!), but it was these lines from Yeats that came to my mind when I heard of his death:
All shuffle there, all cough in ink;
Christopher did not walk that way.
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