Christopher Hitchens, who died at the age of 62 last week, impacted many people with his provocative prose and sharp wit. But as a long-time resident of the Washington, D.C., area, and frequent contributor to The Washington Post, Hitchens left a particularly deep impact on many Post writers, who at times praised his brazen and straight-forward style, and at other times, sparred with him on his cemented beliefs.
Even while delivering a bit of criticism, Hitchens had an impressive command of the English language and literature, noted Anne Applebaum of PostPartisan:
“I see you were feeling eeyorish about Macedonia last week.” As far as I recall, those were the first words Christopher Hitchens ever said to me. They threw me completely. What was this new adjective, “eeyorish”? From which language did it derive?
Then the penny dropped. Of course: The word “Eeyorish” comes from “Eeyore,” the eternally pessimistic donkey in Winnie the Pooh. Only Hitchens would have used this neologism in casual conversation, and only Hitchens would have put it in the context of Balkan conflict. And that was his genius. He had a profound knowledge of English literature, from A.A.Milne to Virginia Woolf. At the same time he had a profound experience of the world — he had been to Macedonia himself, several times — as well as a sense of humor so dry you could hear it crack.