Letters to a Young Contrarian

By Christopher Hitchens | Go to book overview

IX

Yours is not the only mail that I read, as I'm sure you appreciate, and so I know quite well that I can appear insufferable and annoying. Worse than that, I know that I can appear insufferable and annoying without intending to do so. (An old definition of a gentleman: someone who is never rude except on purpose.) I seem to fail this test; a beloved friend once confided to me that my lip—I think he said the upper one—often has a ludicrous and sneering look and my wife added that it takes on this appearance just when I seem least to be aware of it. I freely admit that I was hugely unsettled by these criticisms and observations, and have spent quite some time wondering how long I'd been rude by accident instead of by design. And what of the times when I have felt myself on top form, tossing and goring my opponents, sparkling my way through the repartee, while producing no effect save dull and baffled rage?

Without changing this distressing subject, I am bound to admit that I don't give a damn when similar criticisms come from those who are not friends or lovers. My mailbag and my e-mail often contain praise (why should I conceal the fact?) and even admiration, but when the note is

-69-

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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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