Letters to a Young Contrarian

By Christopher Hitchens | Go to book overview

V

Now you ask me, to what purpose is such a life to be devoted? In a way, you miss my point, since I believe (and I hope I argued) that such a life is worth living on its own account. But perhaps this merely betrays the ageing process at work upon me. I mentioned earlier the irritating term or tag "Angry Young Man," with which awkward types are put in their place as callow young rebels going through a "phase." In Look Back in Anger, the mediocre play by John Osborne that gave currency to the usage, the protagonist Jimmy Porter is going through one of his self-regarding soliloquies when he exclaims, rather tellingly for once, that there are "no more good, brave causes left." This utterance struck home in the consciousness of the mid-1950s, at a time when existential anomie was trading at an inflated price.

Within a few years, I need not add, millions of young people had forsaken the Absurd in order to engage with such good, if not invariably brave, causes as the Civil Rights movement, the struggle against thermonuclear statism, and the ending of an unjust war in Indochina. I was myself "of" this period, and have witnessed some truly marvellous moments at firsthand. (I shan't tell you

-35-

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Letters to a Young Contrarian
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Preface vii
  • Introduction xi
  • I 1
  • II 13
  • III 19
  • IV 27
  • V 35
  • VI 41
  • VII 47
  • VIII 53
  • IX 55
  • X 61
  • IX 69
  • XII 79
  • XIII 85
  • XIV 95
  • XV 105
  • XVI 115
  • XVII 123
  • XVIII 127
  • Envoi 139
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