Christopher Hitchens, the controversial essayist who once had the temerity to question Mother Teresa’s sanctity, is dead at 62. The news came in the form of a statement from Vanity Fair magazine — the outlet for he wrote a regular column for the past several years.
Hitchens died at Texas’ M.D. Anderson Cancer Center from pneumonia, a complication of the esophageal cancer he’s been battling for the past year, according to the Associated Press.
“There will never be another like Christopher. A man of ferocious intellect, who was as vibrant on the page as he was at the bar,” said Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter. “Those who read him felt they knew him, and those who knew him were profoundly fortunate souls.”
Hitchens was profoundly opinionated and contrarian and unapologetically raunchy. He didn’t believe in God, despite being raised half Christian and half Jewish, and devoted much of his writing to debunking religious beliefs and relentlessly tearing down what he considered to be false idols.
“I love the imagery of struggle,” he wrote about his illness in an August 2010 essay in Vanity Fair. “I sometimes wish I were suffering in a good cause, or risking my life for the good of others, instead of just being a gravely endangered patient.”