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Hughes goes American

October 31st, 2003

I made a negative reference to Robert Hughes’ The Shock of the New a couple of days ago. Now this fawning piece by Paul Sheehan (link via Tim Dunlop) reports that Robert Hughes has

relinquished his Australian passport, become an American citizen, and made his self-imposed exile permanent …Exactly three years ago, in the aftermath of the squalls that smashed and permanently damaged him (a near fatal car crash, a hostile reaction to his florid criticisms of the investigation, and a critical pummelling of his TV series about Australia) Hughes told me he was giving up on Australia and applying for American citizenship. When it came through he would quietly hand back both his Australian passport and his AO, and not return.

I can’t say I’m filled with deep regret at this news. Hughes has made some worthwhile contributions in the past, most notably The Fatal Shore, but his behavior over the car crash was very poor (admittedly, not an event to bring out the best in anyone), and his TV series combined an incredibly patronising attitude with an almost total lack of knowledge of, or insight into, Australia.

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