By Linda Hall • 25 May 2023 • 10:02
Image by Daniel Leppens/Shutterstock
ERNEST HEMINGWAY has a lot to answer for, or at least as regards people of a certain age who visited, or went to live in, Spain.
Perhaps we can attach a morsel of blame to Federico García Lorca’s Lament for the bullfighter Ignacio Sánchez Mejías, but he was a Spanish person writing about someone and something he was familiar with. On the other hand, I’m not convinced that Lorca got the women right in the House of Bernarda Alba, but that’s a different matter.
I’m talking about bullfighting of course, and because I’d read Death in the Afternoon and the Sun Also Rises I’m now ashamed to say that when I first lived here, I went to a number of bullfights.
After all, if you’d read your Hemingway, you knew that’s what you were supposed to do when you were in Spain.
What’s more, if I were still an aficionada, I could proudly say that I’d seen some of the best bullfighters of the day and had gone to Antonio Ordoñez’s last corrida. Not that he bore much resemblance by then to the handsome man portrayed in a now-iconic photo taken with Hemingway.
What do I remember about the bullfights I saw? Boredom most of the time, although sometimes a wave of enthusiasm would ripple through the plaza when the bullfighter managed to string together a series of passes.
Apart from that it was butchery, but not as skilled as the butchery you’d find in a slaughterhouse.
Instead, you were subjected to a depressing exhibition by a man dressed in pink stockings, tight satin pants and sequins who was trying – usually ineptly and often repeatedly – to plunge a sword into a panting, half-dead animal.
No doubt bravery was involved, but although it was death in the afternoon it was a slow death that had nothing glamorous or noble about it.
All of which makes me very grateful that football and not bullfighting is now Spain’s preferred national spectacle.
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Originally from the UK, Linda is based in Valenca and is a reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering local news. Got a news story you want to share?
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