Winter 2006 • Vol. XXVIII No. 1 NonfictionJanuary 1, 2006 |

Fellow Contrarians? Christopher Hitchens and George Orwell

I Christopher Hitchens is one of our most prominent and controversial public intellectuals. He has criticized Mother Teresa, condemned Henry Kissinger, and nodded to Rilke with his own Letters to a Young Contrarian (2001).1 Along the way, Hitchens has consistently and openly embraced the work and example of George Orwell. Hitchens' identification with Orwell is the subject of this essay. To understand why Orwell matters so much to Hitchens, we must consider the role Orwell has played in his intellectual development, which culminated in 2002 with Why Orwell Matters (United Kingdom title: Orwell's Victory), a book-length salute to Orwell's achievement as a writer and political thinker. Like Orwell before the success of Animal Farm, Hitchens (1949- ) was relatively little-known outside intellectual circles until the mid-1990s,2 when he became a much-quoted and interviewed critic of the Clinton administration from the Left, especially during the Monica Lewinsky scandal and the

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John Rodden’s most recent books are Textbook Reds: Schoolbooks, Ideology, and Eastern German Identity (2013) and The Unexamined Orwell (2012).

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