Howard Jacobson

How Matilda Lost Her Cherry

The Fatal Shore

By Robert Hughes

Collins Harvill 688pp £15.00 order from our bookshop

Robert Hughes tells with wicked relish the story of a distinguished left-wing Australian intellectual who, when he heard that Hughes was writing a book on the transportation of convicts to that country, remarked that this was like Eichmann undertaking a history of the Jews. Hughes’s immediate response to this (during a radio interview, I believe) was pithily anecdotal: as his dentist always told him before an injection, he had nothing to fear from a little prick. Matters of the mind are pursued with an enviable robustness in Australia.

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