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LONDON — He was the take-no-prisoners polemicist of his generation, by turns aggravating, demonizing and inspiring on both sides of the Atlantic. Now tributes have flooded in to celebrate the life and many fights of Christopher Hitchens, who died of pneumonia aged 62 after a long documented and ultimately losing battle with cancer.
Spectator editor Fraser Nelson joined many by taking to Twitter to express their sadness at Hitchens’ death. “No essayist more inspired young writers,” he wrote.
Indian film director and producer Shekhar Kapur reflected that Hitchens had achieved his long held wish “to be vindicated within my own lifetime,” in a tribute to the writer.
Comedian Neal Brennan wrote – “brilliant writer, orator. The man could have vanquished me debating the facts of my own life,” while Mia Farrow tweeted Hitchen’s essay railing against Nietzche’s doctrine “whatever doesn’t kill me makes me strong,”
In the Vanity Fair article penned in the wake of his diagnosis, Hitchens wrote about his cancer and the language used to describe cancer. If it was a fight, or a battle, he surmised, it was one where the author was “viciously weakened by the very medicine that is keeping him alive.”
Speaking on the BBC’s Today program, writer Ian McEwan said Hitchens had continued to write even as he became more and more ill. “Right at the very end when he was feeble when his cancer overwhelmed him, he insisted on a desk by his window. There he was, a man with only a few days to live, turning out 3,000 words to meet a deadline.”
Fellow writer Salman Rushdie issued among the most emotional tributes to his long-time friend.
“Goodbye, my beloved friend. A great voice falls silent. A great heart stops. Christopher Hitchens, April 13, 1949-December 15, 2011.”
But it was left to Graydon Carter, editor of Vanity Fair, where Hitchens had been contributing editor and controversial columnist on every subject from God, creationism, America and its global role, to encapsulate the triumph of Hitchens’ great passion: writing. On the magazine’s website he noted: “Christopher Hitchens was a wit, a charmer and a troublemaker, and to those who knew him well, he was a gift from, dare I say, God.”
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