Christopher Hitchens (1949-2011)

por Amálgama (16/12/2011)

O grande polemista, repórter, crítico, ensaísta, antiteísta e boêmio morreu ontem (15), aos 62 anos


O grande polemista, repórter, crítico, ensaísta, antiteísta e boêmio morreu ontem (15), aos 62 anos.

Aqui no Amálgama, chegamos a piratear alguns de seus artigos:
O papa não está acima da lei (março, 2010)
Não podemos deixar o papa decidir quem é criminoso (abril, 2010)
O efeito Iraque (março, 2011)
As tolices de Chomsky (maio, 2011)
Do 11 de Setembro à Primavera Árabe (setembro, 2011)

Também resenhamos seus últimos dois livros saídos no Brasil:
A vitória de Orwell, resenhado por Fernando da Mota Lima em setembro de 2010
Hitch-22, suas memórias, resenhado por Daniel Lopes em junho último

A principal razão, aliás, para o Amálgama não publicar um obituário é que acabaria saindo um texto mais ou menos parecido com essa resenha de suas memórias.

Publicamos abaixo, no entanto, trechos de textos relembrando a vida e a obra do autor, publicados nos quatro veículos com que ele contribuía mais frequentemente. É desses quatro veículos a maioria dos ensaios reunidos em Arguably, volume saído este ano e que deve chegar em 2012 no Brasil.

* * *

I met Christopher (never Chris) in 1997. Perry Anderson, a mutual friend, had invited us to debate the wisdom of American intervention in the Balkans. We were, unsurprisingly, on opposing sides–a position that all his friends have experienced, formally or informally. Hitch’s friends were comrades always; but allies only occasionally–that was a role impossible to hold consistently. Hitch, an idealist committed to protecting human rights and to putting thugs in their place, embraced a muscular internationalism consistent with the stand he’d taken on the Falklands war (in 1982, Christopher, a then-uncompromising socialist, was at one with Mrs. Thatcher) and that he would take on the two wars against Saddam Hussein. I held to my usual parsimonious view of the national interest, and so our debate fell into a well-worn groove. Early on I made a smart-sounding point, using a recondite historical analogy, which the audience–largely anti-interventionist–liked. But ten minutes later, although the argument had moved on, it dawned on me that I’d scored a cheap shot, and I said so, explaining why my facile analogy didn’t hold water. Christopher held me in his gaze, touched his right hand to his chest (one of his characteristic gestures), and gave me an almost imperceptible bow. That was it for us. I had passed the only test that mattered to him, one in which he touchingly, anachronistically conflated intellectual honesty with a decidedly masculine, martial sense of honor.

– Benjamin Schwarz, na The Atlantic


He wrote often—constantly, in fact, and right up to the end—and he wrote fast; frequently without the benefit of a second draft or even corrections. I can recall a lunch in 1991, when I was editing The New York Observer, and he and Aimée Bell, his longtime editor, and I got together for a quick bite at a restaurant on Madison, no longer there. Christopher’s copy was due early that afternoon. Pre-lunch canisters of scotch were followed by a couple of glasses of wine during the meal and a similar quantity of post-meal cognac. That was just his intake. After stumbling back to the office, we set him up at a rickety table and with an old Olivetti, and in a symphony of clacking he produced a 1,000-word column of near perfection in under half an hour.

– Graydon Carter, na Vanity Fair


“I see you were feeling eeyorish about Macedonia last week.” As far as I recall, those were the first words Christopher Hitchens ever said to me. They threw me completely. What was this new adjective, “eeyorish”? From which language did it derive?

Then the penny dropped. Of course: The word “Eeyorish” comes from “Eeyore,” the eternally pessimistic donkey in Winnie the Pooh. Only Hitchens would have used this neologism in casual conversation, and only Hitchens would have put it in the context of Balkan conflict. And that was his genius. He had a profound knowledge of English literature, from A.A. Milne to Virginia Woolf. At the same time he had a profound experience of the world—he had been to Macedonia himself, several times—as well as a sense of humor so dry you could hear it crack.

– Anne Applebaum, na Slate


He took pains to emphasize that he had not revised his position on atheism, articulated in his best-selling 2007 book, “God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything,” although he did express amused appreciation at the hope, among some concerned Christians, that he might undergo a late-life conversion.

He also professed to have no regrets for a lifetime of heavy smoking and drinking. “Writing is what’s important to me, and anything that helps me do that — or enhances and prolongs and deepens and sometimes intensifies argument and conversation — is worth it to me,” he told Charlie Rose in a television interview in 2010, adding that it was “impossible for me to imagine having my life without going to those parties, without having those late nights, without that second bottle.”

– William Grimes, no New York Times


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