Martin Amis and Christopher Hitchens
in conversation about Antisemitism and Saul BellowPart 1
I have long estimated that Hitchens has somewhat mellowed on Israel and Zionism since the time he was friends with Edward Said and could hardly contain himself when given half a chance to vent. He still indulges from time to time but one can see that his heart is not in it. The change of tone and, may I suggest, substance, is quite explicit in this conversation.
When I saw this Hitchens’ honest tribute to Bellow’s talent I found it strangely moving. The last time I read about the two of them mentioned in tandem was in Martin Amis’s book “Experience” where a meeting between the two is described as nothing short of disastrous.
Amis recounts his memory of a visit during the 1970’s to Bellow’s house with Hitchens (the same incident is discussed by Amis and Hitchens in the conversation above). Saul Bellow was Amis’s hero; he loved him with the loyalty of a son. The evening they all spend together is like a runaway train, when Hitchens launched a “cerebral stampede” against Zionism and Israel’s “crimes”.
Amis says in his book: “a silence slowly elongated itself over the dinner table. Christopher, utterly sober but with his eyes lowered, was crushing in his hands an empty packet of Benson & Hedges. The Bellows, too, had their gazes downcast. I sat with my head in my palms, staring at the aftermath of the dinner. . . . My right foot was injured because I had kicked the shins of the Hitch so much with it.”In the vids here, Hitchens shows great affection, respect and understanding for Saul Bellow. Is it possible that his disllusionment with Edward Said’s politics after 9/11, has eventually wrought forth a different, more sympathetic view of Israel and Zionism?
I am now thinking maybe it's time I began to take an interest in this author. I have a collection of short stories of his, I'll start from there.
We are flying to Tel-Aviv at the end of the month. I'll take it with me for the 13+ hours long Cross Atlantic flight.