Tuesday, June 22, 2010


Theodore Dalrymple reviews les freres Hitchens, both of whom have memoirs out. Here's a taste:

Christopher made an early commitment to Trotskyism, but it is difficult to take him very seriously as a revolutionary because he always has been too much of a hedonist. Indeed, he appears to me to have had roughly the same relationship to proletarians as Marie Antoinette had to sheep: They have walk-on parts in his personal drama. There is not much evidence of his having thought deeply, or even at all, about the fate, under a social system he vociferously advocated, of the pleasures he so clearly values, the liking for which I don’t in the least blame him; nor is there evidence of any real reflection on what the world would have been like had his demands been met. Not permanent revolution but permanent adolescence has been his goal, and I think he has achieved it.
And then there's this:
Nor is there much sense of irony evident in his attitude toward religion. The only religious people of whom he seems to be aware are the Ayatollah Khomeini and Jimmy Swaggart; he sounds like the barroom atheist who has learned, and never for an instant will let anyone forget, that many popes were bad men. When he writes:

Without the stern, joyless rabbis . . . we might have avoided the whole nightmare of the Old Testament, and the brutal, cruel wrenching of that into prophecy-derived Christianity
a sense of irony might have caused him to add “and the whole of Western civilization.”
Love it! Can't wait for Dalrymple (the writer's nom de plume) to pen his memoirs.

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