Hitchens' Last Words: 'Capitalism, Downfall'

Friends gather for memorial to controversial writer

By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff

Posted Apr 21, 2012 5:58 AM CDT

(Newser) – Intellectuals and celebrities from Salman Rushdie to Sean Penn turned out yesterday for a memorial service in New York for notorious writer Christopher Hitchens, who died last December, reports the Guardian. "He was an auto-contrarian: he contradicted himself as if he felt the only person really worth arguing with was Christopher Hitchens," said Martin Amis. Tweeted Stephen Fry: "Many gathered here to say goodbye to the Hitch. Sitting behind Sean Penn which makes me a little nervous. I speak 23rd. Helluva lineup …"

But Hitchens himself got some of the biggest laughs of the memorial, thanks to an 11-minute video compilation put together by Oscar-winning documentary maker Alex Gibney—which you can see at Vanity Fair. As for Hitchens' last words: On his last day, Hitchens tried to write something by hand, but could produce only scribbles, so said "What's the use?" and fell asleep. A couple of hours later, he woke up and said, "Capitalism. Downfall," repeated the words upon request, and died a short time later, writes Andrew Sullivan at his blog The Dish. "In the end was his beginning," adds Sullivan. (Click for more details on the memorial.)

Late writer Christopher Hitchens from 2004, participating in a panel discussion ('U.S. and Iraq One Year Later : Right to Get In? Wrong to Get Out?') at the 9th Annual LA Times Festival of Books.
Late writer Christopher Hitchens from 2004, participating in a panel discussion ('U.S. and Iraq One Year Later : Right to Get In? Wrong to Get Out?') at the 9th Annual LA Times Festival of Books.   (Getty Images)
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