Buy Used
$4.34
FREE Shipping on orders over $35.
Condition: Used: Good
Comment: Book may have moderate creases and wear from reading. Item qualifies for ** FREE ** shipping and Amazon Prime programs!
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

Things I Didn't Know: A Memoir Hardcover – September 19, 2006


See all 3 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price New from Used from
Hardcover
"Please retry"
$4.73 $0.01
Unknown Binding
"Please retry"
$9.80
NO_CONTENT_IN_FEATURE

Best Books of the Month
Best Books of the Month
Want to know our Editors' picks for the best books of the month? Browse Best Books of the Month, featuring our favorite new books in more than a dozen categories.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; First Edition (states) edition (September 19, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400044448
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400044443
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 6.5 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,656,906 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Cultural critic Hughes (The Fatal Shore) slices into his own life with his ever-ready scalpel of penetrating analysis, opening his saga in 1999 with his near-fatal car accident at age 60 in his native Australia. Glimpsing death, he perceives its mouth as "the bocca d'inferno of old Christian art," a sampling of the rich, wide-ranging corpus of knowledge he brings to bear upon every aspect of his life. His improbable recovery touches off both earnest and acerbic reflections on his upbringing, his native country and the manifold influences that power his works and wanderings through Europe and America. Recognizing his life as an act of rebellion against his sanctimonious war-hero father, he re-enacts his virulent rejection of military aggression and his punitive boarding at Catholic school, where the priests vilify him for reading James Joyce in secret. His immersion in the artistic ferment of the '60s echoes the worldwide convulsions—both cultural and political—of that decade, pulling him into the avant-garde circles that girded his critical career. Hughes's vivid ruminations and sharp-eyed insights combine in bold, definitive strokes to yield a rich portrait of the art expert. 75,000 first printing. (Sept)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From The New Yorker

Hughes, the former art critic for Time, deftly intertwines personal and cultural history in this fiercely erudite memoir. As the youngest son in a prominent Sydney family, he recalls a childhood marked by a growing distance from family, church, and Australia but also by early signs of his aesthetic vocation: the "noble" form of a freshly caught fish fills him with "a first stirring of desire for the Ideal." Stifled by Australia's cultural isolation, he fled to Italy and, later, London, which provides the backdrop for a savagely comic parade of sixties grotesques, from hippies ("stupefied herbivores nattering about karma") to his first wife, whose "near-programmatic infidelity" reminded him of a "deranged alley cat." Framed as a "settling of accounts" with his native country, Hughes's story occasionally becomes self-indulgently sour, but it offers a fascinating examination of artistic patrimony and the formation of a critic.
Copyright © 2006 Click here to subscribe to The New Yorker

More About the Author

Robert Hughes was born in Australia in 1938 and has lived in Europe and the United States since 1964. Since 1970 he has worked in New York as an art critic for Time Magazine. He has twice received the Franklin Jeweer Mather Award for Distinguished Criticism from the College Art Association of America.

Customer Reviews

3.5 out of 5 stars
Share your thoughts with other customers

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Izaak VanGaalen on December 31, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This book starts with a car accident, in 1999 on Australia's Great North Highway, that almost ended Robert Hughes life. Miraculously, he survived but ended up with many pins and screws to keep his mangled body together. What happened afterwards is a good illustration of Hughes' lifelong reputation of brashness and elitism. Hughes was prosecuted for dangerous driving because he was driving on the wrong side of the road. But because the three men in the other vehicle were on drugs and later tried to blackmail him the case was dismissed. After the trial, Hughes went on to call the other party "low-life scum," and also managed to defame the prosecutors. The prosecutors were not happy and decided to sue. And they won. The Australian press was elated that this world-famous art critic had been taken down a notch, not only because he was an elitist, but because he had left Australia to become, well, a world-famous art critic.

This memoir begins in Sydney were Hughes was born and educated, and ends in 1970, when he is leaving London for New York where he would become Time Magazine's art critic for the next 30 years. While attending the University of Sydney he was a cartoonist for the Sydney Observer. When the Observer's art critic vacated the position, the editors, recognizing Hughes' talents, asked him take the job, which he did. Although he loved the work, he felt he needed more experience so he went to Italy, where he worked under the tutelage of Alan Moorhead, and then later to London.

I have read many of Hughes pieces for Time Magazine that were written between 1970 and 2000, but have to admit I was underwhelmed, for I'm not an art history enthusiast.
Read more ›
1 Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By T. Burket VINE VOICE on July 18, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I arrived at this autobiography as a fan of "The Fatal Shore" and "Culture of Complaint", and having no recollection of having read any of Mr. Hughes' art criticism (or much of anybody else's, either). Therefore, I was satisfied picking up some interesting observations and historical perspective along the way, due to his recollections of the art scene and waves of names, many of whom meant nothing to me. Two points stand out regarding culture: Hughes certainly thinks little of the 1960s, except for missing the unspoiled travel destinations, and he certainly thinks little of Australia, even for an ex-pat. I was left wondering how much of that distaste was for a lack of cultural sophistication in Australia and how much was personal baggage and other factors.

Hughes is quite frank throughout, not afraid to jab anyone in sight, including himself on many occasions for being guilty of immaturity, stupidity, laziness, rudeness and many other qualities. Of course, there is no shortage of self-praise, either. Some reviewers complain about his "elitism", a standard accusation against Hughes. That seems almost inescapable in an art critic, and the level here did not bother me at all, other than the disdain for Australia.

The opening chapter on Hughes' near-fatal accident is excellent. Another highlight is his early years through his Catholic education and his blunt explanation about how the threads were pulled and he fell from faith. What could have been too mean-spirited was softened by genuine respect for the educators and priests who made a positive difference.

Another powerful, but brief, topic was his disastrous first marriage. My, what an entertaining mess.
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By John Talbot on January 12, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Hughes first gains his catharsis by a lengthy account of his horrific car accident in Western Australia - and its consequences. The narrative improves after that, but the emphasis varies, leaving the feeling that in places more could have been revealed of the man's internal motivations and emotions.

However, he holds nothing back when he expounds on matters of art and artistic judgment. Without being didactic, his insights are illuminatingly useful, especially for the layman in this area.

Not up to his "The Fatal Shore", this work is still good value for its enlightenment and the inherent interest of a productive if sometimes erratic life well-lived, which one suspects will continue to offer much for many years.

The absence of any photographs is disappointing.
2 Comments Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Bradley F. Smith on June 24, 2007
Format: Hardcover
The first chapter about a car crash that almost killed him, and the last two about his life in '60s London and how he became the art critic for Time magazine are the most readable in this memoir. The long mid-section is as flabby as that of its aging creator. Fiercely erudite though it is, one feels much of this is over-written. To be fair, there are many fascinating anecdotes about Hughes' life in Australia and Europe. His accounts of his marriages are also acidic and entertaining. Evidently, he was quite a pot-head in his day. A bit too much art crit and not enough about his seamier side make this long book a bit less than it might have been. Still worth at least a skim through the middle.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By H. F. Stunzner on January 9, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I bought this as a gift for a Journalist son-in-law who has followed the authors career and admires his work as an art critic. We have discussed the book, after he let me have a quick read, and both agree that it is a very reader friendly book. The style of writing is great and the story of the authors life and consequence of his accident in Australia, makes compelling reading.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

Customer Images

Most Recent Customer Reviews


What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?