Many will hope that posthumous production of controversial and acerbic writer Christopher Hitchens will rival Tupac’s. Hitchen’s insight made him an icon of his time. The Vanity Fair columnist crafted an independent role in intellectual discourse, never aligning entirely with any ideology, which caused as much uproar as it brought respect. In his day, George Orwell cut a similar figure – known for his leftism but also his ardent criticism of totalitarian Communism.
The two have often been linked in the press, with Hitchens judged as the successor of Orwell’s mantle. Perhaps for this was he entrusted with writing the foreword to Orwell’s diaries (a preview of which is available from Vanity Fair).
Though Orwell’s upper class family found prosperity in administrating the colonial empire, his life was a prolonged investigation of the proletariat and the subjects of colonial rule. In an age of politicization of the working man, Orwell was far more unstinting than his contemporaries: a group strictly divided between venerating communists and disparaging patricians. Orwell also dwelt deeply on the implications of colonial rule, preparing the way for colonial and cultural studies.
The diaries also take on a distinctly personal sheen for Orwell, whose efforts to understand the struggling in society required him to unravel the prejudices of his upbringing. His response to that society and its propagandizing media outlets inspired the famous 1984.
Orwell’s work will prove interesting for its unsparing look at the colonial and class relations outside of the deeply politicized context of postmodern history. In an age where consensus is often the barometer of an idea’s worthiness, Hitchens, like Orwell before him, stands for freethinking. The author and essayist died in 2011, in no small part due to having ignored the medical world’s consensus on his drinking and smoking habits. “My own opinion is enough for me,” wrote Hitchens:
and I claim the right to have it defended against any consensus, any majority, anywhere, anyplace, anytime. And anyone who disagrees with this can pick a number, get in line and kiss my ass.
Hitchens has previously written on Orwell in Why Orwell Matters, a 2002 biography on the social critic and his influence.