I've been heavy-hearted all day after hearing that Norman Geras has died.
Norman Geras was in the same tradition as George Orwell—a social democrat who was concerned with the inconsistencies and the incoherent principles among that part of Left that in Orwell's time was soft in the head and heart about the Soviet Union and the Communist ideology and in our time shows the same gooiness towards Islamist theocracy.
Like Orwell, he had a clear writing style that conveyed a great appreciation of living. He had a wide hinterland—cricket, football, music, literature. He was also generous. His blog spent as much time praising as taking to task, of letting other people speak as well as himself.
He's gone and the worth of his life is attested to by the many people who never met him and who are now grieving for him. They knew him as a witty demolisher of other people's cant, an admirer of other people's talents, whether in cricket or music or novels on that blog that was as sparing of pictures as Le Monde used to be and was as unblinged as a nun's face. You knew him by his words which clearly and precisely exposed fatuity and showed the weakness of an argument.
When I first started blogging, I was delighted and honoured when he include me in his Norm profiles. We sent each other a few humorous emails. One was an exchange inspired by Eunoia, a novel with each chapter using only one vowel. Norm slipped up—"oh Norm, no, wrong." I could write to him.
I was taken by his charm and humour as well as by his sharp ear for cant and his moral clarity. I've read a lot of accounts today which say the same thing—never met him, exchanged a few emails, what a lovely bloke, and what an inspiring one.