18 months after being diagnosed with oesophageal cancer, the polemical writer Christopher Hitchens has died at the age of 62. His fans began to fear the worst last month when Hitchens, suddenly hospitalized with pneumonia, couldn’t attend a widely-publicized debate in London. The promoters of the event, Intelligence², quickly turned the debate into a celebration of Hitchens’ life. Stephen Fry played host, and Richard Dawkins, Christopher Buckley, Salman Rushdie, Lewis Lapham, Martin Amis, James Fenton and Sean Penn all paid tribute. Above, we’re highlighting the poignant video once again.
Also fittingly, we’re bringing back another clip that features Hitchens discussing how his struggle with cancer affected his views on the question of an afterlife. “I would say it fractionally increases my contempt for the false consolation element of religion and my dislike for the dictatorial and totalitarian part of it,” he responded. “It’s considered perfectly normal in this society to approach dying people who you don’t know but who are unbelievers and say, ‘Now are you gonna change your mind?’ That is considered almost a polite question.” During the event taped last February (watch the full program here), Hitchens made his views pretty clear: No deathbed conversion for me, thanks, but it was good of you to ask.
And finally we cap things off with a montage of 22 comments from Christopher Hitchens. When you add them all up, you get some vintage Hitchens — everything that made him sometimes loved, sometimes hated but always respected.
If you have never spent time reading Hitch, we’re going to recommend his last piece for Vanity Fair — his reflection on Nietzsche’s famous line “Whatever doesn’t kill me makes me stronger.” It was published last week, and it’s quite the coda.