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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