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Things I Didn't Know - Robert Hughes

Paperback Published: 1st November 2007
ISBN: 9781741664751
Number Of Pages: 528

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The opening chapter tells the brutal story of the car accident some years ago that nearly took his life and left him physically and mentally shattered. In this beautifully written and searingly honest opening, that could be a small book in itself, Hughes makes you understand the trauma of devastating physical damage - and most important, he shows us the thought processes that one goes through when confronting death and a reemergence towards life.

Using the experience of the accident to justify the need to explore his past, Hughes then takes us through his childhood. What makes this book extraordinary is that it is not one bit self-indulgent. He writes of intimately personal details, but he uses every aspect of his life to expound on broader, universal subjects. Hughes uses his fractured and incomplete relationship with his father to explore family relationships. He uses his father's heroic deeds as a WW1 pilot to explain the history of modern warfare, which then turns into an eloquent anti-war tract.

Hughes' years at Jesuit Riverview, a Catholic boys boarding school in Sydney, makes for an entertaining and often hilarious chapter - but it also lets him present us with a history of the Jesuits and leads to a virulently anti-religious point of view. His constant, razor-like examination of Catholicism is a controversial element of the book.

Hughes then takes us through his development as an artist and writer, and shows us his beginnings as an art critic, as well as giving us a history and analysis of art criticism and its importance to our culture. We share his growing appreciation for art and his exhilaration as he leaves the confines of Australia in the 60s and finds a new life in Italy and London.

In each instance, Hughes doesn't just take us on a tour of his life, he takes us on a tour of his mind - and like the perfect tour, it is educational, expansive, entertaining and compelling. He does a magnificent job taking us back to the culture of the 60s in swinging London, never veering into sentiment and always looking back with a critical eye to examine a revolutionary period in art, sex and politics.

ISBN: 9781741664751
ISBN-10: 1741664756
Audience: General
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 528
Published: 1st November 2007
Publisher: Random House Australia
Country of Publication: AU
Dimensions (cm): 19.8 x 13.0  x 4.3
Weight (kg): 0.5
Edition Number: 1

Earn 34 Qantas Points
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Robert Hughes

About the Author


Robert Hughes, art critic of Time magazine and twice winner of the American College Art Association's F. J. Mather Award for distinguished criticism, is author of The Shock of the New, and of Heaven and Hell in Western Art, both written before the present work. He is also author of the acclaimed Nothing if Not Critical, "criticism at its most intelligent and impressive, trenchant, lucid, elegantly written" in the words of William Boyd; a work on Frank Auerbach; Barcelona, and Culture of Complaint, essays on the fraying of America, described in the Observer as " the most bracing of critical broadsides against new anti-intellectual tyrannies". Robert Hughes died in August 2012.

Visit Robert Hughes's Booktopia Author Page