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27 November 2009

The extraordinary courage of Tony Judt

A "quadriplegic wearing facial Tupperware" gives NYU's Remarque Lecture

By Jonathan Derbyshire

Please take a moment to watch this remarkable video. It’s of the great English historian Tony Judt giving this year’s Remarque Lecture at New York University. Judt chose as his topic “What is Living and What is Dead in Social Democracy”. Even in normal circumstances, this would be essential reading (or watching). But these aren’t normal circumstances, because, a year ago, Judt was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s Disease, a neuro-degenerative condition that has left him paralysed from the neck down, and able to breathe only with the aid of a machine.

Yet despite these grotesque afflictions, Judt took to the stage at NYU in October in a wheelchair and spoke for an hour and a half — in his own description, “a quadriplegic wearing facial Tupperware”.

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