Things I Didn't Know
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Things I Didn't Know

3.73 of 5 stars 3.73  ·  rating details  ·  123 ratings  ·  20 reviews
Robert Hughes has trained his critical eye on many major subjects, from the city of Barcelona to the history of his native Australia. Now he turns that eye inward, onto himself and the world that formed him. Hughes analyzes his experiences the way he might examine a Van Gogh or a Picasso. From his relationship with his stern and distant father to his Catholic upbringing an...more
ebook, 416 pages
Published June 3rd 2009 by Vintage (first published June 2nd 2005)
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Eric
Though copies of 'Nothing If Not Critical' and 'The Shock of the New' have made it into the never-to-be-sold core of my collection, I wasn't sure, starting out, that I'd get much out of this memoir (if you're not Proust, Nabokov or Edmund White, your childhood isn't interesting), but by the second chapter I was sold, and it just keeps getting better. The arc is essentially conservative Catholic Sydney in the 1940s-50s to late 1960s London, with an Italian interlude. He's one of the few writers I...more
Laurie
Like "Goya," "Things I Didn't Know" begins with an account of the author's automobile accident, which in this case leads him to review his life up to 1970. He gives an interesting account of his childhood in Australia, criticizing his Jesuit education for its severity, but praising the intellectual curiosity of some of his teachers, who introduced him to modernist poetry and fiction as well as the classics. It's a fine line between love and hate, and Hughes seems to pass from one to the other wi...more
Suzanne
Rambling, shocking, informative, deeply sad and funny, Rbt Hughes reveals almost all in this whirlwind adventure of his most exhilarating life. I laughed and cried out loud all the while surprised that I would or could or was even actually relating to this burly macho and at times perhaps chauvinist writer who, when I was in college, made me gag with dread when his name popped up on reading lists. Now, moving on from this lovingly tattered used copy that I found at Harvard Books in MA, I cannot...more
Bookmarks Magazine

Noted art critic Robert Hughes has lived a writer's life, and here he relives his dramatic career. Although he relates key events__his car crash, his two unhappy marriages (and a third good one), and his son's suicide__Hughes focuses, instead, on the fascinating informal education that made him "completely an elitist, in the cultural but emphatically not the social sense." Despite his description of himself, a few critics caught a whiff of elitism in Hughes's jabs at other artists and pop cultur

...more
Hope
Mr. Hughes is a very talented writer with an impressive vocabulary but I urge him stick to historical writing and art reviews. The best parts of this book were those in which he delved into discussions of the art that inspired and formed his career, and the history that shaped his family. The chapters on his childhood were exhausting and almost made me pass on the book altogether. Perhaps this review should be read with a grain of salt though; I am generally skeptical and unimpressed by memoirs....more
Bob Speechley

There is lot of interesting information in this book about the early life of Robert Hughes before he became an acclaimed, internationally respected Art critic. His family, schooldays and his early working life before he became established are portrayed in a readable form.

Hughes doesn't hold back on the trials associated with his personal life with his first wife and writes a superb story about his visit to Florence after the disastrous flooding in 1966,on behalf of the BBC. The assistance given...more
Jon Chapman
It is always a risk with later autobiographies that the writer's abilities begin to wane, and so they never quite live up to the style and quality that we experience of the writer in their prime. Such is the case with 'Things I Didn't Know' - it is patchy, with moments that are moving, funny, insightful and eloquent, and others that are rather flat. Clearly the accident and subsequent legal wrangle that begins the book, and cripples him physically and professionally, had a major impact on his po...more
David Nash
"Things I Didn't Know" starts with the most exciting chapter of the book, his recent car crash; but then gets bogged down in the details of his early life. The book ends abruptly in 1970 leaving 1970-2006 completely absent.

Tales of his life are interspersed with commentary on art which really just seems to be Hughes sticking to what he knows to meet a word count. Otherwise the writing is excellent and it's mostly an easy read.

I picked up a copy for about $6 (delivered!) on book depository and f...more
John Orman
Mr. Hughes is a chronicler and historian, but here he turns his critical eye on himself and his world.

I was interested in his stories about his Catholic upbringing, including adventures with Confession and Communion. The story of his recovery from a near-fatal car crash is also very revealing.

A book that shows the value of life, and the value of exploring and celebrating his life.

Tom Dale
I give up. I thought his being dead now might inspire a bit of a push to get through to the end but it's not happening. I loved The Fatal Shore but this... no.

It would be an odd autobiography that wasn't self-obsessed but somehow Hughes manages to make it more obviously so than most and to take a clearly interesting family history and turn it into a turgid, whining, bitter drone.
Brad
An interesting individual, brutally honest about himself and his passion for the Visual Arts. While I agree that the book tends to ramble on, and that Hughes doesn't go much beyond 1970, I still found him to be a highly intelligent and intense individual. Certainly, Mr. Hughes was someone you could count on for an interesting conversation.
Scott Gilbert
Wonderful writing, compelling and lucid details as usual from Hughes. He never has the most penetrating insights nor has he lived the most admirable existence, but he presents them in an extraordinary way.
Tonette
I enjoyed all of Hughes' thoughtful stories in these dense and layered pages. A required reading for artists, art-lovers, travelers and adventurers, especially when considering Western culture.
David
fantastic.....robert grew up in australia, went to sydney uni, and then ended up in america, just like me....

this book for me, was very personal.....

i loved it.....
Sue
he's deep, intriguing, incisive and I want to read more of his books! what a life... even tho he ends this one when he goes to Time at age 31.
Clint
Did not like the first section much at all. After he goes to Italy the book is pretty good. The section about the Florence flood is very good.
Mary
I really wanted to like this memoir but he just kept blathering on about meaningless details that I didn't care about...
Tobey
The beginning is great and the end is really interesting. The middle drags a bit but I did laugh aloud more than once.
David
uneven. Parts are a joy to read, other bits are a lot of score-settling.
Luca
A little disappointment, under my expectations...
Carolina Dolinski
Carolina Dolinski marked it as to-read
Jul 24, 2014
Samantha
Samantha is currently reading it
Jun 05, 2014
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Robert Studley Forrest Hughes, AO was an Australian art critic, writer and television documentary maker who has resided in New York since 1970. He was educated at St Ignatius' College, Riverview before going on to study arts and then architecture at the University of Sydney. At university, Hughes associated with the Sydney "Push" – a group of artists, writers, intellectuals and drinkers. Among the...more
More about Robert Hughes...
The Shock of the New The Fatal Shore: The Epic of Australia's Founding Goya Rome: A Cultural, Visual, and Personal History Barcelona

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