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Book Title: Arguably: Essays by Christopher Hitchens|
The author of the book: Christopher Hitchens
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 716 KB
Edition: Signal Books
Date of issue: September 6th 2011
ISBN 13: 9780771041464
Read full description of the books Arguably: Essays by Christopher Hitchens:OK, so if (like me) you start this collection with the notion that there was something iffy about this Hitchens bloke -- I mean how can one dude's stuff be everywhere you look, Vanity Fair, Esquire, The Atlantic, all over the damned internet -- and he had that whole British obnoxiousness down to a T, and if you're predisposed to find a reason to dislike him, let me point you to the one demonstrably brain-dead essay of the hundred or so in this collection. It's on page 389, it's called "Why Women Aren't Funny", it's as stupid as it sounds, and it makes Hitchens seem like a complete tool. Upon reading it, you may be tempted to engage in a little confirmation bias, remembering a certain perceived shrillness in his contribution to the whole God debate thing. And wasn't he the guy who trashed Mother Theresa?
Slow down there. Time for a reality check. A few salient facts:
1) Mother Theresa undoubtedly had it coming (just ask Sinead O' Connor).
2) That dumb "Why Women Aren't Funny" is the ONLY DUD ESSAY IN THIS BOOK. Which means that Hitchens is batting over 99% here. Think about that for a while. When was the last time you came across a nonfiction collection with those kinds of numbers?
3) Yes, he can be scathing. But, to an impressive degree, it's only when provoked.
4) A defining feature of these essays, particularly those dealing with other authors, is their generosity of spirit. Frankly, this surprised me a good deal, because it didn't square with my preconceived notion of Hitchens as a kind of super-erudite arrogant asshole. He is indeed super-erudite. He can be a contrarian - it's a position he obviously enjoys. But he is not a jerk; quite the opposite, on the basis of these essays, at any rate.
5) A major part of the considerable appeal of this collection is just the fun in seeing such an intelligent mind at work. I recycled that sentence from my review of Zadie Smith's essay collection, but it's true a fortiori in Hitchens's case.
Among these essays, my clear favorites are those in which Hitchens discusses the work of other writers. There are about 30 of these, focusing primarily on English authors (though Flaubert, Marx, and Stieg Larsson make an appearance, as do Updike, Nabokov, Bellow, Twain, and Upton Sinclair). These essays benefit not only from Hitchens's apparently boundless erudition (lightly worn), but from his obvious desire always to educate the reader about the best qualities of the work under discussion. His introduction to Rebecca West's "Black Lamb and Grey Falcon" is simply astonishing. I cannot imagine a better introduction being written. To anything. Ever. Unless there's divine or demonic intervention. Maybe not even then.
At the time, I didn't pay all that much attention to Hitchen's death. Reading these essays has made me understand that it is a considerable loss. He will be greatly missed.
Read information about the authorChristopher Eric Hitchens was an English-born American author, journalist and literary critic. He was a contributor to Vanity Fair, The Atlantic, World Affairs, The Nation, Slate, Free Inquiry and a variety of other media outlets. Hitchens was also a political observer, whose best-selling books — the most famous being God Is Not Great — made him a staple of talk shows and lecture circuits. He was also a media fellow at the Hoover Institution.
Hitchens was a polemicist and intellectual. While he was once identified with the Anglo-American radical political left, near the end of his life he embraced some arguably right-wing causes, most notably the Iraq War. Formerly a Trotskyist and a fixture in the left wing publications of both the United Kingdom and United States, Hitchens departed from the grassroots of the political left in 1989 after what he called the "tepid reaction" of the European left following Ayatollah Khomeini's issue of a fatwa calling for the murder of Salman Rushdie, but he stated on the Charlie Rose show aired August 2007 that he remained a "Democratic Socialist."
The September 11, 2001 attacks strengthened his embrace of an interventionist foreign policy, and his vociferous criticism of what he called "fascism with an Islamic face." He is known for his ardent admiration of George Orwell, Thomas Paine and Thomas Jefferson, and for his excoriating critiques of Mother Teresa, Henry Kissinger and Bill Clinton.
Hitchens was an anti-theist, and he described himself as a believer in the Enlightenment values of secularism, humanism, and reason.
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