clever men from australia

Things I Didn’t Know – it’s an unexpected title for a memoir by Robert Hughes, a man who has long seemed to have a handle on pretty much everything. You want to understand the links between post-Einsteinian physics and cubism, between the dream of socialism and the dread of tower blocks? Read The Shock of the New. Need a socio-cultural history of the US? Read American Visions and Culture of Complaint. In his latest book, Hughes is hard on his first – though, four decades since The Art of Australia was published, it remains obstinately in print. So, too, The Fatal Shore, Hughes’s unimpeachable 20-year-old history of Britain’s transportation of convicts to his home country. Add to the list his near- encyclopaedic books on Barcelona, Goya and eschatological iconography (Heaven and Hell in Western Art), as well as his primer on marine ecology (A Jerk on One End), and you are left with a short list of things that this Argus-eyed Aussie might not know.

more from The New Statesman here.