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“America’s foremost rhetorical pugilist.” —John Giuffo, The Village Voice
The death of Christopher Hitchens in December 2011 prematurely silenced a voice that was among the most admired of contemporary writers. For more than forty years, Hitchens delivered to numerous publications on both sides of the Atlantic essays that were astonishingly wide-ranging and provocative. The judges for the PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay, posthumously bestowed on Hitchens, praised him for the way he wrote “with fervor about the books and writers he loved and with unbridled venom about ideas and political figures he loathed.” He could write, the judges went on to say, with “undisguised brio, mining the resources of the language as if alert to every possibility of color and inflection.” He was, as Benjamin Schwarz, his editor at The Atlantic magazine, recalled, “slashing and lively, biting and funny—and with a nuanced sensibility and a refined ear that he kept in tune with his encyclopedic knowledge and near photographic memory of English poetry.” And as Michael Dirda, writing in the Times Literary Supplement, observed, Hitchens “was a flail and a scourge, but also a gift to readers everywhere.”
The author of five previous volumes of selected writings, including the international bestseller Arguably, Hitchens left at his death nearly 250,000 words of essays not yet published in book form. And Yet… assembles a selection that usefully adds to Hitchens’s oeuvre. It ranges from the literary to the political and is, by turns, a banquet of entertaining and instructive delights, including essays on Orwell, Lermontov, Chesterton, Fleming, Naipaul, Rushdie, Pamuk, and Dickens, among others, as well as his laugh-out-loud self-mocking “makeover.” The range and quality of Hitchens’s essays transcend the particular occasions for which they were originally written. Often prescient, always pugnacious, and formidably learned, Hitchens was a polemicist for the ages. With this posthumous volume, his reputation and his readers will continue to grow.
Christopher Hitchens was the cartographer of his own literary and political explorations. He sought assiduously to affirm—and to reaffirm—the ideas of secularism, reason, libertarianism, internationalism, and solidarity, values always under siege and ever in need of defending. Henry James once remarked, “Nothing is my last word on anything.” For Hitchens, as for James, there was always more to be said.
About the Author
Christopher Hitchens was born April 13, 1949, in England and graduated from Balliol College at Oxford University. The father of three children, he was the author of more than twenty books and pamphlets, including collections of essays, criticism, and reportage. His book God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything was a finalist for the 2007 National Book Award and an international bestseller. His bestselling memoir, Hitch-22, was a finalist for the 2010 National Book Critics Circle Award for autobiography. The New York Times named his bestselling omnibus Arguably one of the ten best books of the year. A visiting professor of liberal studies at the New School in New York City, he was also the I.F. Stone professor at the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley. He was a columnist, literary critic, and contributing editor at Vanity Fair, The Atlantic, Slate, The Times Literary Supplement, The Nation, New Statesman, World Affairs, and Free Inquiry, among other publications. Following his death, Yoko Ono awarded him the Lennon-Ono Grant for Peace.
Praise for And Yet...
"Christopher Hitchens is sorely missed, And Yet…, reading his new book – a bounty of famous scalps, thunder-blasted targets, and a few love letters – is such a powerful reminder of the late V.F. contributing editor and notorious provocateur in chief’s erudite and scathing assessments of American culture,it’s almost as if he’s here."
— Vanity Fair
“Just as with rock bands that seem to have done more farewell tours than pre-farewell performances, there's probably more in the vault—but in this case, that's a very good thing indeed.”
— Kirkus Reviews
“A very good new collection… The best reason to read AND YET… may be its inclusion of a three-part essay, ‘On the Limits of Self-Improvement,’ that Mr. Hitchens wrote for Vanity Fair about trying to get himself in shape. It is as hilarious as it is wise, and I predict it will be published before long as its own pocket-size book… The moment when Mr. Hitchens undergoes the male version of a Brazilian bikini wax… has yet to be recognized, but surely will be, as among the funniest passages in this country’s literature.”
—The New York Times
“In this volume one is given a model of how to be a thoughtful journalist. Today, four years after his death, Hitchens is correctly seen as a writer who was unafraid to swim against the tide, even to the point of being politically incorrect… All in all, another great book of essays from a writer who we wish were still alive to produce more copy.”
Praise for Christopher Hitchens:
"The essays in 'Arguably' remind us of other dimensions to this singular writer and thinker that are sometimes overshadowed by the range of his political commentary. Though there are plenty of essays on politics to be found here, the book also treats us to other arrows in Hitchens' proverbial quiver, including his bracing, exhilarating approach to important literary figures...Its value is clear and needs no justification. And since his diagnosis of esophageal cancer last year, opportunities to hear him, understandably, have been fewer. Which is another thing 'Arguably' inadvertently addresses - for in reading this collection of his thoughts, immersing yourself in the particular turns of phrase and associations of Hitchens' wit, you suddenly realize something else: You're hearing his voice again."—Nick Owchar, Los Angeles Times
"Christopher Hitchens's selected essays are Arguably (Twelve) his finest to date."—Vanity Fair
"One reads him [Hitchens] despite his reputation as someone who wants to drink, argue, and tear the ornaments off the tree, because he is, first and last, a writer, an always exciting, often exacting, furious polemicist. This fact, the most salient thing about him, often gets neglected in the public jousting. Arguably, Hitchens's new collection, forcefully proves this point. Consisting of three kinds of writing - literary journalism, political commentary, and cultural complaint - Arguably offers a panoramic if somewhat jaundiced view of the last decade or so of cultural and political history."—The Boston Globe
"Opinions are to Christopher Hitchens what oil is to Saudi Arabia. This collection, featuring his liveliest, funniest and most infamous essays....There is a time for the balanced, even-handed and sober approach - but why bother with any of that when you could be reading someone as provocative and impish as Hitchens?"—The New York Post
“Arguably the best—and certainly the most prolific—essayist Britain has produced since George Orwell.”
—Andrew Anthony, The Observer
“A rare blend of elements: the buoyant and the serious, the streetwise and the learned, the crude joking of the pub and ‘the cut glass Oxford tones’ of civilized debate.”
—David Castronovo, Commonweal