Friday, December 16, 2011

A horseman has ridden away

"And I saw, and behold, a white horse, and its rider had a bow; and a crown was given to him, and he went out conquering and to conquer. When he opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, 'Come!' And out came another horse, bright red; its rider was permitted to take peace from the earth, so that men should slay one another; and he was given a great sword. When he opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, 'Come!' And I saw, and behold, a black horse, and its rider had a balance in his hand; … When he opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say, 'Come!' And I saw, and behold, a pale horse, and its rider's name was Death, and Hades followed him; and they were given great power over a fourth of the earth; to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by wild beasts of the earth."         — Book of Revelation [6:1–8]

A week or so ago, I was moved by a brilliant article in Vanity Fair [display] in which Christopher Hitchens, ravaged by cancer and radiation treatment, analyzed cynically a proverbial declaration by Friedrich Nietzsche: "Whatever doesn’t kill me makes me stronger."

Here, we see Richard Dawkins on the left and pale shaven-headed Hitchens on the right. I'm awaiting the arrival of a paper copy of the special Christmas issue of New Statesman that I mentioned in my recent blog post entitled Dawkins to edit New Statesman [display]. Meanwhile, a few extracts have appeared online [display].

While Hitchens attained fame as a writer in professional US circles, I persist in imagining him as the epitome of a highly-cultivated and brilliant English wordsmith.

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