Prolific journalist, best-selling author and public intellectual Christopher Hitchens has succumbed to Stage 4 esophageal cancer, reports Vanity Fair. The 62-year-old Hitchens, who was a noted atheist, died Thursday at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas. He is survived by wife Carol Blue and children Alexander, Sophia and Antonia, the first two by ex-wife Eleni Meleagrou.
Cancer discovered in 2010
Christopher Hitchens received the diagnosis that he had Stage 4 esophageal cancer in June 2010. The treatment regimen forced Hitchens to curtail his public speaking appearances, but his output of essays, book reviews and columns for such publications as Vanity Fair, Slate and The Atlantic did not waver.
“I’m not going to quit until I absolutely have to,” Hitchens told a cheering crowd gathered at one of his last public speaking engagements.
Nurturing the flame of curiosity and defiance
Hitchens’ writing continued to run the gamut of American and global politics, with periodic references to his own sense of mortality. A Vanity Fair piece that published days before he died reaffirmed that he hoped to be awake and aware as he passed away, “in order to ‘do’ death in the active and not the passive sense.”
“I do, still, try to nurture that little flame of curiosity and defiance: willing to play out the string to the end and wishing to be spared nothing that properly belongs to a life span,” he wrote.
From Socialism to the war on terror
Born in Portsmouth, England, in 1949, Hitchens studied at Oxford University before becoming a journalism during the 1970s. An early interest in Socialism and Marxism informed his early writing. In the early 1980s, Hitchens emigrated to the U.S. and became a regular with The Nation magazine for 20 years. He left the liberal publication due to its editors’ stance on the Iraq war.
By 2007, Christopher Hitchens won a National Magazine Award for his commentary, and he also gained U.S. citizenship. Named one of the 25 most important liberals by Forbes in 2009, Hitchens still managed to surprise many liberals in his support of President George W. Bush’s “war on terror.”
Best-selling author and critic of religion
Perhaps the most recognized portion of Christopher Hitchens’ literary output were his nearly 20 books, including the best-seller “God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything” and “Hitch-22: A Memoir.” Hitchens’ stance on public figures in politics and religion like Henry Kissinger, Bill Clinton, Mother Theresa and Jerry Falwell was pointedly outspoken, as was his view of organized religion in general.
In an August 2010 interview with The Atlantic colleague Jeffrey Goldberg, Hitchens made it clear that even if he somehow came to denounce atheism while on his deathbed – in much the same way as famous historical figures like the astronomer Galileo Galilei – it would be a “hollow gesture”:
“The entity making such a remark might be a raving, terrified person whose cancer has spread to the brain,” he said. “I can’t guarantee that such an entity wouldn’t make such a ridiculous remark. But no one recognizable as myself would ever make such a ridiculous remark.”
Christopher Hitchens denies the US is a ‘Christian nation’
The Atlantic: http://bit.ly/vGQzZt
Christopher Hitchens Wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christopher_Hitchens
Vanity Fair: http://vnty.fr/u2dtUU
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