RIP Christopher Hitchens: Stephen Fry Pays Tribute, Hitch Rejects the Deathbed Conversion

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.

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Comments (12)
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  • Tammy Fellows says:

    So sor­ry to hear of Mr. Hitchens’ passing…I’m only sor­ry I did­n’t dis­cov­er him and his work sooner…he was always bril­liant and thought provoking…just what I love in any per­son. Heart­felt con­do­lences to his fam­i­ly and friends…he will be missed even by those who nev­er met him but enjoyed his work.

  • This is love­ly. Thank you. I’ve been a fan of Mr. Hitchens for many years and I can­not think of a sin­gle per­son that I dis­agreed with so much and so often and yet so deeply admired. His work was a con­stant source of both amuse­ment and out­rage and he kept my gray mat­ter stir­ring. I real­ly regret his pass­ing.

  • Sinjin Smythe says:

    I bought a copy of “Arguably” as a Christ­mas gift for a freind. Seemed the decent thing to do.

  • Kevin says:

    It’s fun­ny how peo­ple write RIP like in the title of this post when Hitch would have tak­en issue with you. He’s not rest­ing any­where. He has­n’t gone to a bet­ter place. We’ll miss him.

  • Andrew says:

    How can an athe­ist R.I.P?

  • James says:


    He cant be burn­ing in hell because it does­n’t exist. I love the irony of you try­ing to call some­one out on speak­ing non­sense which is pret­ty much what you’r entire post con­sist­ed of. And thanks for prov­ing his point with your mind­less hate.

    You will be missed Hitch

  • John Curtis says:

    Some­body com­ment­ed: ‘I’m glad this rat bag is burn­ing in hell’.

    Typ­i­cal, attack­ing the arguer rather than the argu­ment right off the bat.

    There are many peo­ple in this life who I fierce­ly dis­agree with span­ning a vast range of issues, but I would nev­er wish them ill or hell for hold­ing a dif­fer­ent opin­ion to me.

    The right to offend and dis­agree is vital­ly impor­tant in any free soci­ety — pro­vid­ed it does not lead to vio­lence. Even those I strong­ly dis­like and dis­agree with — should be afford­ed every oppor­tu­ni­ty to express them­selves and make their views known to all.

    Call­ing Mr Hitchens a ‘rat bag’ is both shal­low and unin­tel­li­gent. By all means, dis­agree and put across a well-rea­soned and thought-out argu­ment, but wish­ing some­body ‘hell’ for not agree­ing with you — tel­l’s more of you than it does them.

  • Jay from Philly says:

    He was worth­less piece of chick­en­hawk shit.

  • Tracy says:

    Christo­pher Hitchens- your life & the depth of how you felt & argued is some­thing most of us will nev­er have.

    The proof is in the mind­less attacks from the men­tal­ly ane­mic.

    So sor­ry to only find you at the end- I wish I knew of you soon­er- I’d have .paid to hear you speak.

    Con­do­lences to Christo­pher’s fam­i­ly & friends.

  • Admirer says:

    Just came across this. All I can say is good on you Hitch and if heav­en is going to be pop­u­lat­ed by the likes of Zarathus­tra and ‘Jay from Philly’ give me Hell any day

  • Lol says:

    Mr C Hitchens helped me break my sta­tist pro­gram­ming even though he him­self was a sta­tist. Lol!
    A bril­liant man who con­tin­ues to shine on in our con­scious­ness­es.

    See if you can iden­ti­fy the evil com­men­tors and their foul minds from the com­ments on this page…

  • Brian Arpel says:

    Thank you so much for mak­ing that point. Sad­ly, only recent­ly did I become acquaint­ed with Christo­pher Hitchens when he was in a debate, with Stephen Fry, enti­tled ‘the Catholic church is a force for good in the world today’.
    They were both so eru­dite and their argu­ments so com­pelling as a result of the debate scores was totalled.
    I think Christo­pher will live in the ether for­ev­er. What a great man!
    I note that some bum­ble mind­ed per­son wrote ‘I’m glad this rat­bag is burn­ing in hell’.
    That can­not be, for there is no hell, no heav­en, and no God!

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