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 and school years; and from his development as an artist, writer, and critic to his growing appreciation of art and his exhilaration at leaving Australia to discover a new life, Hughes’ memoir is an extraordinary feat of exploration and celebration.
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\x97both cultural and political\x97of 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 .