Eminent Smokers

Bertrand Russell

Bertrand Russell

“I’m glad to hear you smoke. A man should always have an occupation of some kind. There are far too many idle men in London as it is.”  

                                 —  Oscar Wilde

 

Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad was written in a single long stint — three days without sleeping.  He took no food or strong beverage.  In the morning hours of the third day, he completed those hundreds of pages of penetrating prose on a quiet veranda. On the table beside him:  the light, the fluttering papers,the mighty mountain of cigarette butts.

Yes, there are many eminent people who smoke… or who did smoke. Mark Twain, Winston Churchill, Artie Shaw, Albert Einstein, J. Robert Oppenheimer (a bona fide chain smoker), John F. Kennedy, Johnny Weismuller, Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse and Geronimo.

Can you imagine Sartre in a Parisian cafe writing some scenes for “Nausea” without a cigarette in play?  Oscar Wilde, George Orwell, John Wayne, Ringo Star (and all the others), Audrey Hepburn, Deng Xiaoping, Sigmund Freud, Leonard Cohen, Keith Richards (and all the others) and Alfred Hitchcock. There… now do you get the picture?

Smoking is actually quite glamorous.

Light a cigarette and the night comes alive.

Smoking too much can be dangerous.

You choose.

 

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