Unacknowledged Legislation: Writers in the Public Sphere

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Overview

A celebration of Percy Shelley’s assertion that ‘poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world’, these thirty-plus essays on writers from Oscar Wilde to Salman Rushdie dispel the myth of politics as a stone tied to the neck of literature; Norman Podhoretz’s ‘bloody crossroads’. Instead Hitchens argues that when all parties in the state were agreed on a matter, it was the individual pens that created the space for a true moral argument.
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New York, New York, U.S.A. 2001 Hardcover New 1859847862. TEXT PRISTINE-358 pages.

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Overview

A celebration of Percy Shelley’s assertion that ‘poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world’, these thirty-plus essays on writers from Oscar Wilde to Salman Rushdie dispel the myth of politics as a stone tied to the neck of literature; Norman Podhoretz’s ‘bloody crossroads’. Instead Hitchens argues that when all parties in the state were agreed on a matter, it was the individual pens that created the space for a true moral argument.
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Editorial Reviews

The Times
“Hitchens's writing is tough, heartfelt, coruscating, funny ‒ and imbued with the understanding that the task in hand is an important one.”
Gore Vidal
“I have been asked whether I wish to nominate a successor, an inheritor, a dauphin or delfino. I have decided to name Christopher Hitchens.”
Independent
“A Tom Paine for our troubled times ... He picks up the sword and mantle of E. P. Thompson, and carries them off with swashbuckling impertinence, valiant for truth, last in the line of English gentlemen-intellectuals.”
Irish Times - John Banville
“Unacknowledged Legislation is a big, handsome book containing some of the best, most polished and wittiest writing you are likely to encounter this or any other year ... Gore Vidal should be so lucky to have this boy for an heir.”
Sunday Times
“Christopher Hitchens is indeed hit-man to the intelligentsia. If there is an inflated ego to puncture, he has the red-hot needle to do it.”
Los Angeles Times - Lee Siegel
“Lionel Trilling once observed in his diaries that, to his genuine surprise, he was no longer simply a critic of literature but had become a fact of literature himself ... Christopher Hitchens, political and literary journalist extraordinaire, should now be considered a fact of political and cultural reality. His astounding capacity for work has produced a body of work; his vastly ranging, deeply driven devastations and illuminations make up a reliable outlook on the world.”
Time Magazines Literary Supplement
“He is a loose cannon, a sharp wit, an ironist, a polemicist of exceptional talent, and editor's dream.”
From the Publisher
“Hitchens’s writing is tough, heartfelt, coruscating, funny ? and imbued with the understanding that the task in hand is an important one.”—The Times

“I have been asked whether I wish to nominate a successor, an inheritor, a dauphin or delfino. I have decided to name Christopher Hitchens.”—Gore Vidal

“A Tom Paine for our troubled times ... He picks up the sword and mantle of E. P. Thompson, and carries them off with swashbuckling impertinence, valiant for truth, last in the line of English gentlemen-intellectuals.”—Independent

Unacknowledged Legislation is a big, handsome book containing some of the best, most polished and wittiest writing you are likely to encounter this or any other year ... Gore Vidal should be so lucky to have this boy for an heir.”—John Banville, Irish Times

“Christopher Hitchens is indeed hit-man to the intelligentsia. If there is an inflated ego to puncture, he has the red-hot needle to do it.”—Sunday Times

“Lionel Trilling once observed in his diaries that, to his genuine surprise, he was no longer simply a critic of literature but had become a fact of literature himself ... Christopher Hitchens, political and literary journalist extraordinaire, should now be considered a fact of political and cultural reality. His astounding capacity for work has produced a body of work; his vastly ranging, deeply driven devastations and illuminations make up a reliable outlook on the world.”—Lee Siegel, Los Angeles Times

“He is a loose cannon, a sharp wit, an ironist, a polemicist of exceptional talent, and editor’s dream.”—Times Literary Supplement

Erica Wagner
...a paragon of the genre. Hitchens’s writing is tough, heartfelt, coruscating, funny—and imbued with the understanding that the task in hand is an important one.... His arguments are elucidated with a flair always admirable but never overwhelming.
The Times (London)
Philip Hensher
This punchily authoritative and sparky collection passes a supreme test for the reader; he keeps your interest, even when you haven't the faintest idea what he is talking about.... what the book will be bought for is a collection of terrifically insulting, urbane demolitions of excessive reputations. But what gives his writing substance is a constant sense of seriously held values.
The Guardian (London)
Geoffrey Wheatcroft
this latest collection of book reviews and magazine articles shows again what an outstanding critic he can be.... The excellent and penetrating piece on Conan Doyle judges his work very well, sets it in context, and has a penetrating aside about the vogue for spiritualism after the Great War.
The Spectator
London Times
A paragon of the genre.
Irish Times
Contains some of the best,most polished,and wittiest writing you are likely to encounter this or any other year.
Los Angeles Times
A poised masterpiece.
From The Critics
Notorious for his scathing attacks on Mother Teresa and the Clintons, Hitchens turns here to the relationship between literature and politics, revealing how writers from Oscar Wilde to Tom Clancy "encounter politics or public life." Whether praising Gore Vidal or Salman Rushdie, or attacking the likes of Tom Wolfe and Norman Podhoretz, Hitchens posits writers as "the unacknowledged legislators of the world." Linking his thirty-five essays thematically, the author counters Stendhal's claim that "politics is a stone tied to the neck of literature." Instead he argues that in their work, great writers like Leo Tolstoy and Charles Dickens were "occupied with the political condition as naturally as if they were breathing." The writing, marked by the author's usual breadth of knowledge, is magnificent. There is also a good deal of soul, such as in Hitchens' reaction to the war poems of Wilfred Owen: "I shall never be able to forget the way in which these verses utterly turned over all the furniture of my mind." Owen's work, he writes, "is the most powerful single rebuttal of Auden's mild and sane claim that 'poetry makes nothing happen.' " Always invigorating and eloquent, Hitchens has proven himself to be a master critic of our age.
—James Schiff

(Excerpted Review)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781859847862
  • Publisher: Verso Books
  • Publication date: 3/17/2001
  • Pages: 432
  • Product dimensions: 6.60 (w) x 9.60 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Christopher Hitchens
Christopher Hitchens is a contributing editor to Vanity Fair and the author of the best-selling God Is Not Great. His books published by Verso include The Trial of Henry Kissinger, No One Left to Lie To, The Missionary Position, Unacknowledged Legislation, The Parthenon Marbles, Hostage to History, and more.
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Customer Reviews

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