Last Updated: Tue Dec 20, 2011 20:17 pm (KSA) 17:17 pm (GMT)

James Brock: On Christopher Hitchens and the importance of language

Christopher Hitchens paid attention to language, and it shows. (Reuters)
Christopher Hitchens paid attention to language, and it shows. (Reuters)

If one reads more than a few pages a day, it is easy to run across thoughts and opinions – and facts – with which one disagrees. And it is, unfortunately, too easy to encounter sloppy writing, consisting of faulty arguments and exhibiting inattentive style.

I read a lot, and for a long while now Christopher Hitchens has been on my list of, if not required reading, writers whose work I keep an eye on with regularity. In fact, I doubt that a week has gone by in the past decade that I have not read one of his essays or articles, online, in a magazine or in one of his collections of work. And I admit to paying even more attention to his work since hearing last year of his diagnosis of cancer, the disease that led to his death. I was probably thinking: He won’t be around much longer, so I need to appreciate his efforts. There will come a day when his output will cease to be.

Well, that day came, of course, as it will for all of us. And while a volume or two of unpublished work might appear, what we have of Hitchens is largely all we are going to have.

Which brings me back to reading and writing, and the sheer joy of becoming part of the lucidly presented thoughts of others, whether you agree with them or not. I enjoy spending time with Hitchens, among many other writers and poets, because I love language and admire writers who endeavor to use it in a proper manner and who pay it the attention it deserves.

Because it deserves nothing less.

(James Brock, a writer and editor, can be reached at

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