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10 Great Christopher Hitchens Quotes on Literature and Writing

The finest sourced quotes from Christopher Hitchens

Christopher Hitchens (1949-2011) was one of the most popular – and divisive – writers of his day. Born in England, he moved to the United States in his early thirties, and lived in Washington D. C. for the rest of his life. He is often celebrated for his witty one-liners and bon mots, so here we’ve gathered together ten of his best quotations about literature, being a writer, and related subjects.

If you’re a self-employed writer, there’s a tendency always to feel guilty any time you’re not working. – ‘In Depth with Christopher Hitchens’, C-SPAN, 2007

I became a journalist partly so that I wouldn’t ever have to rely on the press for my information. – Hitch-22: A Memoir

It would be useful to keep a diary, but I don’t like writing unpaid. I don’t like writing checks without getting paid. – Quoted in Deborah Solomon, ‘The Contrarian’, New York Times Magazine, 2010

Christopher HitchensLeaden prose always tends to be a symptom of other problems. – Hitch-22: A Memoir, 2010

A joke isn’t a joke if it has to be explained, let alone justified, and the same goes for many sorts of allusion, nuance, and affect – the invisible bits of writing and conversation that actually make it possible. – ‘Sensitive to a Fault’, Vanity Fair, 1994

Literature, not scripture, sustains the mind and – since there is no other metaphor – also the soul. – God Is Not Great, 2007

Those who think of the humble, unassuming limerick as a trivial or vulgar thing are making a serious mistake. Its capacity and elasticity can contain multitudes. – ‘My Week’, Observer, 2009

When you consider how many millions of workdays begin with hangovers great and small, it is mildly surprising to find how few real descriptions of the experience our literature can boast. – ‘The Teetotal Effect’, Vanity Fair, 2004

It no longer seems to matter whether or not a novel, or film, or play carries the conventional disclaimer about ‘all persons herein’ being fictional, et cetera. People seem determined to discover themselves in fiction – a version of narcissism that might repay study. – ‘American Notes’, Times Literary Supplement, 1987

No reviewer, however desperate, should ever say of a book that it cannot be put down. It is such a cliché, and it puts too much of a strain on the credulity of a reader. – ‘Collected Thoughts on the Evolution of War’, Newsday, 1988

One other line often attributed to Hitchens, ‘Everyone has a book in them…‘, was not originated by him though he did help to popularise it in recent years. Because tracing origins and determining authenticity is an important part of researching quotations, we’ve added the source for each quotation – but there are many more. The Wikiquote page for Christopher Hitchens has more of his best lines. And there are more witticisms and pronouncements to be found in Quotable Hitchens From Alcohol to Zionism – available, as Hitchens himself liked to say, in fine bookstores everywhere. Fans of Christopher Hitchens may also enjoy this short clip of a young Hitchens making a speech in the late 1960s.

Image: ‘Christopher Hitchens reading his book Hitch 22‘, 2010; author: meesh; Wikimedia Commons.

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About interestingliterature

A blog dedicated to rooting out the interesting stuff about classic books and authors.

Posted on March 25, 2016, in Literature and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. What a great collection of quotes! I love these two particularly:

    ‘ I became a journalist partly so that I wouldn’t ever have to rely on the press for my information. – Hitch-22: A Memoir

    It would be useful to keep a diary, but I don’t like writing unpaid. I don’t like writing checks without getting paid. – Quoted in Deborah Solomon, ‘The Contrarian’, New York Times Magazine, 2010

  2. I love your posts, and tonight I resonate most with this one: “If you’re a self-employed writer, there’s a tendency always to feel guilty any time you’re not working.” I am always in awe of writers who find time to exercise ;-)

  3. Reblogged this on funlifequotes and commented:
    Christopher Hitchens quotes from interestingliterature.com

  4. Wonderful! Thanks for sharing :) Agree with the working writer one so much!

  5. I’m a Christian who loves Hitch. Must respect the mind, even though I think he overgeneralizes beliefs he only partially understands.

  1. Pingback: 10 Great Christopher Hitchens Quotes on Literature and Writing – HemmingPlay

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