Homepage > Classics > Saggistica > Spagna > Morte nel pomeriggio Recensioni

Morte nel pomeriggio

Death in the Afternoon
Da Ernest Hemingway
Recensioni: 29 | Valutazione complessiva: Media
Still considered one of the best books ever written about bullfighting, "Death in the Afternoon" is an impassioned look at the sport by one of its true aficionados. It reflects Hemingway's conviction that bullfighting was more than mere sport and reveals a rich source of inspiration for his art. The unrivaled drama of bullfighting, with its rigorous combination of


data di revisione 04/21/2020
Shamma Mcguigan

Death in the Afternoon can be seen as Ernest Hemingway’s attempt to equate the ritualized dance of the matador with that of the writer. Maybe not all writers, but one very specific writer. It’s significant, I think, that unlike his story in The Sun Also Rises, Hemingway is presenting the ritual of bullfighting strictly as nonfiction. In the work, the bullfighter, the bull and spectators all have parts to play in what is essentially an unfolding tragedy. Each contribute to the meaning produced by the spectacle. Hemingway pays a great deal of attention to the style of the matadors, whether they are brave and take risks and what price they are willing to pay for their art. In Death in the Afternoon, readers can learn quite a lot about bullfighting (the phases of the bullfight as well as the history and pageantry of this violent sport) but, to me, what’s more interesting is what there is to be learned about Hemingway. 4.25 Stars.
data di revisione 04/21/2020
Leta Nonamaker

I was thinking of bullfighting and of the bull cults that have existed since ancient times. It started with the Egyptian cult of Apis, of which the Golden Calf at the giving of the Ten Commandments was part. Then there was the Minotaur, Nandi the mount of Shiva, the various Celtic bull cults and others widespread through the world up to medieval times. In the present day, the baptismal font of the Mormons stands upon 12 bulls (derived from Solomon's bronze basin no doubt). Perhaps bullfighting, man against what is arguably the primal male animal figure, Theseus against the Minotaur, is a survival of those cults, a ceremony of worship or sacrifice where the bull must die for man to reign supreme. But this isn't mentioned in this or any other book I've read on bullfighting.

The best thing about this book is the wonderfully evocative title. The content doesn't live up to it. Hemingway obviously loved bullfighting and if he'd hadn't been so old and out of shape when he discovered it, would certainly have tried to be a matador himself. As it was, he couldn't so he immersed himself in the culture and wrote about it in this book.

The book has three distinct sections, which although distinct he does jump back and forth to information already imparted. The first section is about the horses and bullfighting. He repeats a lot of crap that he has heard. Things like all the horses are killed. That injured horses have their bellies stuffed with straw and sawdust and then sewn up so they can continue to fight on. So they are not blinkered but blindfoled, made deaf, have their vocal cords cut out and their nostrils glued up but are still in fighting condition! I did some research on this and it does seem that an awful lot of horses died in the corrida back then, still now but not so much. However there is trade in buying ex-bullfighting picador horses and retraining them for dressage which they apparently excel at.

Since the matador is responsible for all expenses for his team, human and equine, it is hardly likely they would be keen to sacrifice highly-trained animals and would obviously have done what they could to preserve life and reuse them.

The second and longest section is the retelling and explanation of a bullfight in an extremely patronising way to an old woman who sits in a cafe and lusts after the matadors. This device is thoroughly annoying and eventually irritates Hemingway enough to just dismiss it, not even really 'her'. The most interesting part of this section is about the bulls, their breeding and their selection. What was particularly interesting is how bulls are bred to be small and weak although brave so that the bullfighters can handle them. Or at least handle them after the picadors have thrust their lances into the neck muscles to weaken the animal, stop him being able to fully raise his head and to enrage him with pain. Doesn't seem like a fair fight does it?

The last section which can easily be skipped and I wish I had, was a long list of the matadors extant in Heminway's day along with a description of their virtues or otherwise.

Although this is, in many ways, the best written of the books about bullfighting I've read, Death and the Sun: A Matador's Season in the Heart of Spain is very informative and quite beautiful.

I am no more pro or anti-bullfighting than I was before I read the book. The weakening of the bull has always upset me, far more than the idea of a ballet drawn around death. I don't know if I would go and see a fight given the opportunity, but I might. If only for the marvellous suits of light, Ora Plata: Embroidered Costumes of the Bullfight.

(visualizza spoiler)[This spoiler and the next were written when I was reading the book.

A customer came into the bookshop who actually went to a bullfight at Aranjuez Corrida outside Madrid (in 1947. He's 86, very old, still travelling). He was describing it to me and it sounds a lot less bloody and a lot more exciting than the articles I have read. When I say 'less bloody' I don't mean it wasn't cruel but that the horses were not gored, there were no entrails like ribbons, and the bull could lift his head and charge. He had also seen cows, which are used for training and considerably more dangerous than bulls because of their different horns and different ways of charging, but apparently you can't really 'play' with cows. They just want to hit the person, not necessarily gore them so they are head-up, rather than the bulls going for the blood head-down. (nascondi spoiler)]

(visualizza spoiler)[Other books on bullfighting I've read are
Ora Plata: Embroidered Costumes of the Bullfight
Running with the Bulls: Fiestas, Corridas, Toreros, and An American's Adventure in Pamplona,
e il fantastico Death and the Sun: A Matador's Season in the Heart of Spain which I didn't review (as yet). A 5-star book about the business of bullfighting, from the breeding of the bulls through to what happens to matadors that live long enough to retire. It was a book of depth, introspection, that made me think way outside the usual knee-jerk, 'but it's so cruel' box. (nascondi spoiler)]
data di revisione 04/21/2020
Denna Mulville

Hemingway's classic treatise on Spanish bullfighting.

After reading, my son asked about the book and it's barbaric subject. He and I watched some bull fights on Youtube and he said, "WHAT??? They actually kill the bulls?"

In this age of PETA and Michael Vick it was strange to read. This 80 year old glimpse into Old World savagery was not Hemingway's greatest work, but it demonstrated his technical skill and mastery of the language.

It was a good book, the reading of it was very fine.

data di revisione 04/21/2020
Wahkuna Santucci

Death In The Afternoon, Bigotry At Night
What an unusual book. Macho, macho man Hemingway tells you everything you never wanted to know about bullfighting and will probably forget as soon as you put the book down. But there are also some worthwhile insights about aesthetics.

This volume is as much about writing as it is bullfighting. Included is Hemingway's famous "iceberg" theory:

If a writer of prose knows enough about what he is writing about, he may omit things that he knows and the reader, if the writer is writing truly enough, will have a feeling of those things as strongly as though the writer had stated them. The dignity of movement of an iceberg is due to only one-eighth of it being above water.
That’s as good a philosophy of Hem’s approach to writing as there is.

Here’s another interesting passage:

… there is one thing you can do and that is know what is good and what is bad, to appreciate the new but let nothing confuse your standards. You can continue to attend bullfights even when they are bad; but never applaud what is not good. You should, as a spectator, show your appreciation of the good and valuable work that is essential but not brilliant. You should appreciate the proper working and correct killing of a bull that it is impossible to be brilliant with. A bullfighter will not be better than his audience very long. If they prefer tricks to sincerity they soon get the tricks. If a really good bullfighter is to come and to remain honest, sincere, without tricks and mystifications there must be a nucleus of spectators that he can play for when he comes.
You could apply this to any sort of art, from writing to opera singing. How many artists rely on “tricks,” things they know appeal to audiences for immediate, reliable effect?

Some of the info about breeding is fascinating: how bulls from different regions of Spain are different because of what they feed on, how Mexican bulls differ from Spanish ones, etc. You’ll learn everything about bullfighting techniques, cape technique, footwork, how to work the ring, where best to sit in the stadium and how much those seats cost, the difference between matadors, toreadors, picadors, banderilleros… and then there's:


Not everything’s so sunny in the bullring, however. Hemingway also advises on throwing “cushions, pieces of bread, oranges, vegetables, small dead animals of all sorts, including fish, and, if necessary, bottles provided they are not thrown at the bullfighters’ heads.”

I’m not sure if this is irony. And at one point he also talks about wanting to shoot two bullring servants:

I have seen several of them, two especially that are father and son, that I would like to shoot. If we ever have a time when for a few days *you may shoot anyone you wish I believe that before starting out to bag various policemen, Italian statesmen, government functionaries, Massachusetts judges, and a couple of companions of my youth I would shove in a clip and make sure of that pair of bullring servants. I do not want to identify them any more closely because if I ever should bag them this would be evidence of premeditation.
*Um, isn't this essentially the plot of the movie The Purge?

And there are sections where Hemingway simply compares bullfighters of the past. Fine for newspaper reporting in the 1930s, perhaps, but a crashing bore nearly a century later.

...and THE UGLY

Hemingway employs a really annoying device in which he carries on imaginary conversations with “an old lady.” Sorry, Papa, but these seem fake, especially today. They're also really misogynistic and ageist. Speaking of misogyny, there’s an unnecessary and inane dig at Virginia Woolf when he talks about cows’ intelligence (they don’t charge the coloured capes the way the bulls do).

He’s also really homophobic. There’s a passage at the end of Chapter 17 that is a gratuitous insult about the painter El Greco that irks a modern reader:

One time in Paris I was talking to a girl who was writing a fictionalized life of El Greco and I said to her, “Do you make him a maricón?”
“No,” she said. “Why should I?”
“Did you ever look at the pictures?”
“Yes, of course.”
“Did you ever see more classic examples anywhere than he painted? Do you think that was all accident or do you think all those citizens were queer? The only saint I know who is universally represented as built that way is San Sebastian. Greco made them all that way. Look at the pictures. Don’t take my word for it.”

“If [El Greco] was [a maricón] he should redeem, for the tribe, the prissy exhibitionistic, aunt-like, withered old maid moral arrogance of a Gide; the lazy, conceited debauchery of a Wilde who betrayed a generation; the nasty, sentimental pawing of humanity of a Whitman and all the mincing gentry. Viva El Greco El Rey de los Maricónes.”
In the book's thesis-length glossary, Hemingway defines “maricón” as:

Maricón: a sodomite, nance, queen, fairy, fag, etc. They have these in Spain too, but I only know of two of them among the forty-some matadors de toros. This is no guaranty that those interested parties who are continually proving that Leonardo da Vinci, Shakespeare, etc., were fags would not be able to find more. Of the two, one is almost pathologically miserly, is lacking in valor but is very skillful and delicate with the cape, a sort of exterior decorator of bullfighting, and the other has a reputation for great valor and awkwardness and has been unable to save a peseta. In bullfighting circles the word is used as a term of opprobrium or ridicule or as an insult. There are many very, very funny Spanish fairy stories.
Alas, dear reader, this isn’t one of them.
data di revisione 04/21/2020
Dressel Lawer

Death in the Afternoon, Ernest Hemingway
Death in the Afternoon is a non-fiction book written by Ernest Hemingway about the ceremony and traditions of Spanish bullfighting, published in 1932. The book provides a look at the history and what Hemingway considers the magnificence of bullfighting. It also contains a deeper contemplation on the nature of fear and courage. While essentially a guide book, there are three main sections: Hemingway's work, pictures, and a glossary of terms. In Death in the Afternoon, Hemingway explores the metaphysics of bullfighting—the ritualized, almost religious practice—that he considered analogous to the writer's search for meaning and the essence of life. In bullfighting, he found the elemental nature of life and death.
Notes: Hemingway 2003: p. 12, "It would be pleasant of course for those who do like it if those who do not would not feel that they had to go to war against it or give money to try to suppress it, since it offends them or does not please them, but that is too much to expect and anything capable of arousing passion in its favor will surely raise as much passion against it."
عنوانها: مرگ در بعد از ظهر؛ من فقط از این خانه نگهداری میکنم؛ نویسنده: ارنست همینگوی؛ تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز سی و یکم ماه می سال 2016 میلادی
عنوان: مرگ در بعد از ظهر؛ نویسنده: ارنست همینگوی؛ مترجم: سحر محمدبیگی؛ تهران، آرادمان؛ 1394؛ در 287 ص؛ شابک: 9786008099086؛ موضوع: داستانهای نویسندگان امریکایی - سده 20 م
عنوان: من فقط از این خانه نگهداری میکنم؛ نویسنده: ارنست همینگوی؛ مترجم: سمانه نیک سرشت؛ تهران، انتشارات فراموشی؛ 1396؛ در 176 ص؛ شابک: 9786009746613؛
کتاب «مرگ در بعد از ظهر»؛ در سال 1932 میلادی نگاشته شده، و یک کار «غیرداستانی» درباره ی «گاوبازی اسپانیایی» است. «همینگوی» در باره ی گاوبازی: «تورئو»، در بیان درست یا نادرست بودن آن، چنین نگاشته‌ است: «تنها این را می‌دانم که کارخوب، کاری است که پس از انجام آن احساس خوبی از خود داشته‌ باشی، و کار بد آن است که پس از انجامش، احساس بدی به‌ شما دست بدهد». ا. شربیانی
data di revisione 04/21/2020
Utley Schabowski

A live pelican is an interesting, amusing, and sympathetic bird, though if you handle him he will give you lice; but a dead pelican looks very silly.
Lotz: Hello, everyone. Welcome back to book club. Did everyone finish our book?

Tutti gli istruttori: Yes, yes.

Lotz: Good. Now did anybody like it?

Medico: I thought it was dreadful the way he talks about the bulls.

Lotz: Ok, you can go then.

Uomo d'affari: Really, this whole business sounds crude and wasteful.

Lotz: You are dismissed.

Negoziante: I’d never let my children read this sort of thing.

Lotz: Off you go. But did anybody like it? Anyone at all?

Vecchia Signora: I quite liked it.

Lotz: Ok, come with me, then, and we’ll talk about it.

Vecchia Signora: Alright, sir. But tell me. Why are you writing your book review like this? Didn’t Hemingway do this in the book?

Lotz: Yes, Madame, he certainly did. I thought it would be fun to imitate him.

Vecchia Signora: All imitations only serve to show the imitator is a failure. Didn’t Hemingway say that?

Lotz: Something like it. Well, tell me then. What did you like about the book?

Vecchia Signora: It’s hard to say. To be honest, I thought I’d hate it. But there was something really charming about the way Hemingway talks about bullfighting. I can't exactly put my finger on it.

Lotz: That’s how it always is with Hemingway. You think he will be violent, boorish, brutal, vulgar, perhaps even vaguely immoral. But for a certain subset of people, there is nothing at all vulgar in it; only artistry and truth. And you can’t know what kind of person you are until you read him.

Vecchia Signora: Didn’t Hemingway say almost the same exact thing about bullfighting? You’re ripping him off again.

Lotz: Madame, ripping authors off is one of my pastimes. But it is indeed worth pointing out that whenever Hemingway describes hunting or bullfighting or one of his manly pursuits, he is also giving a metaphorical description of his own writing.

Anziana: Many people have said this before. You’re a poor critic.

Lotz: True enough, Madame. But did you realize this as you read?

Anziana: I admit I didn’t, but now that you point it out it is all very obvious. I heard it before, years ago.

Lotz: Yes, the way he goes on and on about how the bullfighter must be brave and honest, must be simple and straightforward, must not cheat his crowd, must not use any tricks, must put himself in real danger.

Anziana: Spare me this analysis.

Lotz: I apologize, Madame. But tell me, are you now curious to see a bullfight?

Anziana: I suppose so, just to see if I can pick up on any of the things Hemingway talked about. All the artistry and so forth.

Lotz: Perhaps we can go together, Madame.

Anziana: With you? I’d rather not.

Lotz: I understand, Madame. I’m curious to know, was there anything you didn’t like about the book?

Anziana: Yes, I admit that I got rather tired of Hemingway’s descriptions of techniques and of the careers of various bullfighters by the end of it. He went on for rather too long about how bulls have to be brave, how men have to be brave, how everybody and everything has to be brave, and he ended up repeating himself pretty often.

Lotz: You’re right about this, Madame.

Anziana: And I get the creeps when he talks about how killing is an art.

Lotz: For Hemingway, the moment of death was the simplest and the truest of all moments. You see, Hemingway loved things that were simple and true, but he thought that some things were so simple and so true that most people can’t face them and so can’t adequately write about them.

Anziana: Yes, yes, spare me any more of this dramatic criticism. I am going. I haven’t time for your puerile book reviews. Goodbye.

She is gone. This review is almost over. If I was up to writing a proper review, I would tell you about how it felt to read this book sitting in a café in Madrid, sipping on a vermouth and gnawing on a bocadillo with chorizo, and I would tell you about the motion sickness as I read this book on the bus ride to Manzanares el Real, about looking out the window and seeing a statue of a matador standing in front of a town’s bull ring, and about the hard, rugged landscape that went by the window, with its rocky hills and empty plains, and about the conversations I’ve had with Spaniards here about whether or not the bullfight is ethical, and I would tell you about visiting the bullring at Ronda after seeing the cliffs and the green countryside, and buying the book in the museum’s gift shop. If this was a proper review, I would tell you all of these things.
data di revisione 04/21/2020
Ezaria Cenephat

Long ago and far away I'd idle around the second-hand book sales that were held in our Student Union. The booksellers were a distinctive collection of late middle-aged men to whom normative styles of housekeeping and hygiene were alien. I could imagine them travelling from one university to another all week, setting out lines of not always mouldy paperbacks on trestle tables, making a thin living selling and reselling course books as well as books not on any reading list imaginable. Occasionally I pick up something for a pound or two and one of those books was this one.

It is to date the only Hemingway I've ever read. It's a book about Bullfighting - a bit of a cruel misnomer seeing as the purpose of the exercise is to kill the bull in a ritualistic manner but I suppose Bull Sacrificing doesn't have quite the same ring to it - but some personal recollections were mingled into stories about bullfighter, the fights and the training. This is mainly with reference to Spain in the 1920s and 30s with a few mentions of the Bullfighting scene in Mexico.

Ferdinand was one of my favourite books as a child, so I can't imagine ever watching a bull-fight but I was pleasantly surprised how interesting it was to read the details of how matadors train and learn their technique from mock fighting with cows (training with bulls would not be the wisest pastime, cattle are dangerous enough out in the fields as it is), to the set up of the ring and how the event is structured to ensure the death of the bull.

There is no interest though in the whys of bull fighting, why this sacrificial event developed in Iberia and why not elsewhere, particularly considering that over the border in Southern France they have their own different bull sport tradition that doesn't involve the death of the beast as a matter of course. What was really weird were the couple of completely irreverent anecdotes about homosexuals, one Hemingway describing hearing two Americans in the neighbouring hotel room in Paris one realising that the other's intentions were not platonic and with the connivance of the hotel management inescapable, another in which Hemingway as Art Critic telling an allegedly impressed woman that all the male figures in El Greco paintings were clearly gay. When somebody seems to be seeing gays under every bed you can't help remembering the Lady doth protest too much, methinks and suspect there is more than a splash of projection going on.

Probably of historic interest only, unless you are a completionist, but deals with an oddly interesting topic.
data di revisione 04/21/2020
Malvina Ompal

I’ll review this more once I get my computer back. Parts of the book annoyed me (the stylized dialogue with the old lady at the end of the chapters seemed forced and weird, but produced some of the best lines and observations in the book) and parts left me breathless. I am unashamed and unabashed in my love for Hemingway. I love his curiosity, his passion, his style. He doesn’t always kill clean, but he doesn’t cheat and always gives the reader a good, dramatic show.
data di revisione 04/21/2020
Cardinal Rother

The bullfight was every bit as controversial an institution when Ernest Hemingway's now much neglected Morte nel pomeriggio was first published in 1932 as it is today. The difference is that It may be closer to extinction today than it was then. At the very beginning of the book Hemingway writes:

I suppose, from a modern moral point of view, that is, a Christian point of view, the whole bullfight is indefensible; there is much cruelty, there is always danger, either sought or unlooked for, and there is always death, and I should not try to defend it now, only to tell honestly the things I have found true about it. To do this I must be altogether frank, or try to be, and if those who read this decide with disgust that it is written by some one who lacks their, the readers', fineness of felling I can only plead that this may be true. But whoever reads this can only truly make such a judgment when he, or she, has seen the things that are spoken of and knows truly what their reactions to them would be.

True to his word, Hemingway does not explicitly undertake a defense of bullfighting in what follows. Rather, he reports honestly what he found true about it, including the cruelty. This reporting provides the reader with the best understanding of the gara yet to be found anywhere in the English language known to me. If it is true that to understand all is to forgive all, then this surely is an eloquent, if implicit, defense of bullfighting.

The book inspired me to see for myself “the things that are spoken of” and withhold judgment until I had. I have now seen bullfights in Spain and Mexico, and I am hooked. I have answered in my own mind the moral questions raised by the spectacle to the extent that morality is relevant. I will continue to attend on every occasion that practically presents itself.

The book is worth reading because the subject of bullfighting is only a pretext for many fascinating and thought-provoking observations concerning the human dilemma. Hemingway explores in the concrete abstract propositions such as bravery, courage, honor, cowardice, art, and, believe it or not, love.

Regarding love:

All people talk of it, but those who have had it are all marked by it and I would not wish to speak of it further since of all things it is the most ridiculous to talk of and only fools go through it many times. I would sooner have the pox than to fall in love with another woman loving the one I have. . . .

All those who have really experienced it are marked, after it is gone, by a quality of deadness. I say this as a naturalist, not to be romantic.

This is true, is it not? Hemigway's explanation of the art and his assessment of the great matadors of his day provide a backdrop for his observations about life such as this. Whether they be true or not, they invariably cause one to set aside the book for moment and think.

The primary abstraction that Hemingway explores in the concrete, however, is death. A little short of halfway through the book, Hemingway places a little essay entitled "A Natural History of the Dead" consisting of a graphic description of dead bodies he had encountered during World War I in Europe. The message seems to be that there is nothing romantic about death itself. Death is the ultimate degradation. For Hemingway the important issue is how individuals face this ultimate degradation. The matador is the figure through whom Hemingway explores this issue.

Bullfighting is the only art I which the artist is in danger of death and in which the degree of brilliance in the performance is left to the fighter's honor.

After setting the scene with a description of the style of the two masters of the art, Joselito and Belmonte, Hemingway discussed the "decadence" of the bullfight as practiced in his own time. He describes the courage and cowardice of various contemporary matadors, wonderful character sketches.

A great collection of vintage photographs are included as well as a glossary that is itself interesting reading, particularly for one learning Spanish as I am. The book is marred by only one thing. Hemingway writes it as if he is explaining the gara to a hypothetical old woman. Most of the chapters close with a dialogue between the old woman and him. I find this device to be a bit contrived even though some of the best philosophical gems are found in these dialogues.

If you have read and enjoyed Hemingway's fiction—and there are only a few of us left around who have—you really ought to try this non-fiction work. I believe that reading Morte nel pomeriggio gives one a better understanding of and appreciation for the likes of Per chi suona la campana, A Farwell to Armse certamente The Sun Also Rises. But then again, I am a little old and out of fashion myself.

data di revisione 04/21/2020
Brookner Turnbaugh

Everything you ever wanted to know (and not know) about bullfighting. If you've read Moby Dick, you'll have a idea about how an author can obsess about a particular human activity, in detail, and one goes along for the ride because in that obsessive examination is a clue to what the author feels is important in some aspect of humanity. Again, Hemingway is a sucker for the Spanish way of seeing life and death and courage. Hemingway, through bullfighting, somehow finds a florid display of people facing the fear of death and conquering it. I do NOT recommend this book for the squeemish or politically correct or committed vegans with vitamin B deficiencies. We be talk'n bout meat and horns and guts and death and jerks pretending they're brave and on and on. But, like Moby dick, it's a way of finding out a lot about a subject and how that activity relates to the human condition.
data di revisione 04/21/2020
Kain Spraker

Gentle readers, this review is rated R for violent and ick-inducing discussion topics!

'Death in the Afternoon' by Ernest Hemingway is a complete dissertation on bullfighting. It covers every aspect: the bullfighters, the killing, the clothes, the instruments, the meaning of bullfighting rituals and words, and of course, the bulls and their upbringing. The edition I read had hundreds of blurry photos (I could not find the edition I checked out from the library on GR, so I selected the edition closest to it). The book also has a large glossary, which I found to be extremely helpful.

There is a section where EH included reactions from various people he had invited to come with him to a bullfight. He was not oblivious to how people were repulsed or hated it. Frankly, I went into this book expecting to be repulsed and disgusted. I love kitties and puppies, and I hate Chinese meat market methods, as well as American ones, and I want the whales and seals to be left alone. I'm a city kid. One of my parents grew up on a farm and the other on a primitive island, so I heard hunting and butchery stories, as well.

Ernest Hemingway was drawn to the sport of bullfighting by the ritual in killing bulls, I think, emphasize on 'ritual'. Ritual DOES lend some dignity and definitely a lot of control and ceremony. The last half of Chapter twelve in the book is a discussion with an old lady about EH's knowledge of dead, and rotting, soldiers killed, no rituals involved, on the battlefield: "A Natural History of the Dead." After a vivid and accurate and satiric rendition of wartime mules, injuries, mutilated soldiers, and tired doctors, EH ends the chapter with these words, "Madame, it is always a mistake to know an author."

Disturbing as death is to contemplate, even worse is how Humanity reacts to it when face to face with Death. I think ritualized death may be a way to make death less horrific and to make us vulnerable humans feel safer. Death is definitely the destiny of every man, woman and child. Have you ever seen a dead body? I have. Ever see a car wreck, a plane or train crash, a bombing attack, or a war battle? If you dare, most events are on video somewhere on the Internet, if you've never personally been involved. The random executions of innocent people make the ritualizing of it attractive (religion and video games are obvious offshoots). It feels like Death can be controlled, beautified, made emotionally acceptable through cultural sharing and distancing. Men can be shown as heroic, brave, talented and expert instead of as brutal uncontrolled butchers and victims of happenstance and chance.

Animals are unaware of the possibility of their Death; but humans know, and supposedly, humans should know better because we know...instead, if we aren't shoving it under the rug, we are moralizing and making philosophy on beautified imagery in obfuscated conversations. How inadequate this actually satisfies many people can be measured by how many young men volunteer for military service to find out: 1. What death is, and; 2. How they will react to it.

In my opinion, most women are fools in discussing actual death. Many women can provide a comforting bosom to cry on, but nothing substantial as far as 'getting it'. I've been part of female coffee klatches where I have heard the most inane, brain dead and clueless pap about Death.

People are all over the map in contemplation of Death, but despite the variety of reactions and thought, it is damn predictable on the surface. There are those who are 'been there, done that' and while they are not thinking alike on how they respond to their experience, we should give them the respect of knowledge which most of us do not have.

Death is often discussed by innocents who've never seen it, but who think they know enough about it to be knowledgeable - they are wrong. There is a definite 'before' and 'after' experience of death. Before seeing death, all is imagination and guesswork only; afterwords, surprising and weird emotions rise to the surface of consciousness which many hesitate to reveal.

Real Death has a way of smashing every cultural shaping of it. From my own personal experience, Death is both an individual and cultural event, and it changes you. One can share the cultural recognition of how you are changed; but only authors appear to have the courage to reveal the personal intellectual traumas. EH saw hundreds of bloated bodies in different stages of decomposition He drove mangled but still living soldiers to Hospital, and he saw mules and animals, innocent of course by nature, murdered and mauled. Bullfighting must have been a relief and a safe way to experience the 'rush' of death.

I can reveal one of near-Death's effects is that of a HUGE, overwhelming 'rush'. In one of my experiences, I was walking around during night where there were no lights. Suddenly out of the blackness a big heavy train was speeding by 6 inches from my nose. I hadn't heard it or known it was coming. I didn't know I was near train tracks. It must have been going 60 miles per hour as it was a blur, and a wind sucking at my clothes and hair. Instead of fear, I felt an elation beyond description, a huge excitement at having almost been killed but having been lucky to not have taken that extra step onto the tracks a moment before. Instead, I had paused, noticing the crickets had gone silent.


The above link should lead you to a YouTube video showing a bull fight. I watched this with renewed interest, sparked by Ernest Hemingway's book 'Death in the Afternoon'. While I still think it is barbaric, I no longer think it is obscene.

Ok, WARNING WARNING WARNING! The link below is to a truly obscene video, full of animal cruelty. WARNInG! This video is truly horrific, but it is not the worst I've seen. Seriously. This YouTube video is a look at the first steps about making hamburger - getting old and sick cows to rendering plants. There are other videos which I could not watch beyond a few seconds. Lots and lots of videos exist of living cows being tortured at rendering plants everywhere on the internet. There are also videos of cows in Europe being horribly abused in transport - ship, truck, etc. - on being pushed off or on ships, trucks.


The bullfight kills the Bos primigenius species with some dignity. It appears we kill our meat with cruel depravity and sneering laughter. I now find the moralizing over bullfights disingenuous.

The link below is everything about cattle you ever wanted to know.


I changed my opinion about bullfighting after doing some thinking and research. Yes, it's a gratuitous and unnecessary display of animal death - but it is a surprisingly respectful killing. I'm sure many of the spectators are not completely aware of the meanings meant by the rituals (how many of us utilize the internet or non-fiction books to research topics regularly - religious Americans, for example, in tests about Christianity, average a score at 30% knowledgeable about their own faith). But in my opinion, given how brutal many deaths are, how sanctimonious we are about some deaths and yet we completely tolerate or look the other way on other unjust or horrific deaths, and the fact most cattle end up dead before we eat them as steaks and hamburger, I've decided I'm ok with bullfighting, if not the obscene avidity of fans. I watched the YouTube videos, and IMHO, given current butchery methods in regular cattle-killing factories (also see the videos of how developed nations kill pigs, chickens, rabbits, etc., bullfighting is low on the scale of animal cruelty.

Most cattle are destined for butchery. Most cattle die in undignified and drawn-out painful deaths, cruel and unnecessary. In comparison, bullfighting seems to me to allow some cattle more dignity, exploitive or not. I don't know if there are educational classes available to bullfighting aficionados so that it isn't only about sick emotional satisfaction, but the rituals, if adhered to, guarantee a respectful dance of death between the matador and the bull. EH gives a clear, reasoned description of the emotional reasons for bullfighting and also makes clear the intellectualized rituals which elevate this particular blood sport beyond, say, deer hunting or wild horse round-ups, or wolf/wild animal-by-helicopter killing or tying down a tiger to a stake so the 'brave' hunter can walk up to it and put a bullet in its body (not the head -that's needed for hanging on the wall).

Still, I'll never ever go see a bullfight for real. City kid, me. I can trap rats and step on insects and bury household pets, but not without squeamishness.

P.s. Hemingway also displays his usual bigoted inner voice, i.e, homophobic and woman hating.
data di revisione 04/21/2020
Ardme Zollner

I wasn't really sure what to expect when I picked this up, but I thought if I were to read about bullfighting, Hemingway might be a good choice as a guide. I had no idea it would be so detailed.

I feel like I came away from it understanding the structure of a bullfight, the environment, the emotion. I was fascinated by his descriptions of proper killing, the work of the picadores and banderilleros (who I didn't even know existed before), and all the moves that a matador may perform, properly or improperly. Perhaps the most interesting part was Hemingway's recurring theme of the bravery of the bull. It's easy for an outsider to think of the matador as brave (or crazy), but one rarely considers the idea of a brave bull and how that bravery can raise the level of a bullfight to sheer brilliance if properly used by the matador.

Also, you get a glimpse of Spain and its people through his writing, which I also enjoyed immensely. And finally, some of it was quite funny, as my boyfriend can attest because I kept reading passages out loud to him.
data di revisione 04/21/2020
Shanna Woolston

The great thing is to last and get your work done and see and hear and learn and understand; and write when there is something that you know; and not before; and not too damned much after. Let those who want to save the world if you can get to see it clear and as a whole. Then any part you make will represent the whole if it's made truly. The thing to do is work and learn and make it.

I bought this book because I cannot imagine any self-respecting literature enthusiast who does not own Hemingway's major works. Admitedly, however, I did not know what to expect from the book. I had a vague notion that Hemingway discusses bullfighting - onto page one.

The title itself seems to suck all fear and sentiment from the notion of death. It implies a certain casual approach to the concept - or its crafty entrance onto a lively scene. Keep reading.

Immediately, Hemingway prefaces the book by dictating, in no uncertain terms, his trademark intentions as a writer - to write honestly of what exists as truth, mercilessly; the central ethos of his style. He insists that the writer must serve as a simple conduit between an event and those who read about it so the event can dictate its own inspiration to emotion, not the writer. He need not add any stimental embellishments lest the reader alternate his focus between their emotions and the writer's emotions and displace themselves from the stirring in their own soul, or censor any aspect of an event and deny the reader the full emotive experience. Hemingway obviously possesses a deep insight into the essence of bullfighting and has coupled that insight with a sturdy writing philosophy. Preach on.

I particularly appreciated Heminway's distinction between qualifying the moral implications of bullfighting according to feeling and as a unity of circumstances into one tragic, beautiful event. A spectator may sympathize with the horse, bull or matador which would lead to negative or positive feelings about the fight, depending on the outcome. If the matador wins and the spectator desires an example of Man triumphing over nature, he might argue for a certain moral high ground in bullfighting. Yet if a spectator sympathizes with animals, they might see only a dispicable scene of grotesque barbarity. Yet both of these spectators would miss the terrible trajedy, in all its beauty and truth, within the whole event. The bullfight, arguably, represents a dance - the unavoidable snare of Death and the proud defiance of Life - in all its terrible beauty or gallant victory.

When understanding Death as an imminent fate, one might find themselves viewing life through a rather unpleasant nihilistic lens. Such a pessimistic respect for death might ultimately render all of life's happiness as meaningless, which would explain the moral dread felt by some who witness the bullfight. Who wants to feel that way? In the bullfight, these majestic and terrible beasts exist to die. But, nihilistically speaking, does not man exist for the same reason? Perhaps the bullfight somehow imparts Man's dread or, perhaps, his inability to accept his own meaninglessness - born to die, a tragic existence now shared with the strongest of beasts who cannot, like Man, stave off the end.

On the other hand, Man has always imagined himself as a grandiose being capable of altering his own fate. Even today, people essentially apply all manners of sciences to disarm and shackle Death. We thrive on defiance and worship those who rise from the dead. Matadors do not rage against nature but spit in the face of charging Death. And yet, amongst all the pomp in the performance lies the art of the dance. The trajedy of the bullfight is not that the bull, or matador, dies but how he dies. Neither creature can control anything more.

One will see the brilliance and majesty of bullfighting when one sanctifies the seemingly contrary and combative executions of truth rather than abhoring the apparent neglect of cozy morals. To restrain one's actions to align with what one can qualify as the right and true thing, though it may mean the end for something else on the stage, is to devote oneself less to the outcomes of those players and entirely to the vision of real essence. Morality cannot exist purely based on the sustainability of life because death will never cease to exist. Therefore, have confidence in doing the right thing and respect the presence of Death.

Whoa, Hemingway...careful now.

Hemingway talked at length about many of the noteworthy matadors practicing in Spain through the early twentieth century. He talked about one known as Maera. During this short biography of a John Wayne fighter brought up under one of Spain's immortal masters, I felt a certain emotive quality but struggled to explicitly identify the reasons behind the emotion or to find any moral justification for it. At least Hemingway offered none. I simply felt the dull bliss of human connection between two unrelated people separated by all matter of space and time. Any moral implication or lesson in truth, the desire and subsequent search for them within the story, faded and left me with an indefinable contentment in knowing the true actions and essence of someone without distracting myself with the hopes of being bettered by such an acquaintance. I felt this same emotion propelling me through The Sun Also Rises but couldn't make sense of it. After reading Morte Nel Pomeriggio, a book centering around a "sport" I care nothing about, I somehow feel that I've come closer to appreciating and understanding the essence of Hemingway's ethos.

I only wish Hemingway had performed more laudibly in his craft. Look back to the epigraph at the beginning. Tell me he could not have written such a beautiful idea better.
data di revisione 04/21/2020
Kerwinn Inglese

An epic tome on the art and grandeur of Spanish bullfighting from one of America's greatest aficionados, Ernest Hemingway, who explicates the craft and spiritual intensity of this ancient European ritual through terse, journalistic, prose and rigorous scholarship. Not surprisingly, Hemingway is not terribly perturbed by the grotesque barbarity of the violence of bullfighting; Hemingway was an enthusiast of hunting and had little to no moral qualms about killing animals (and sometimes people). Yet he is not totally insensitive, warning the reader that most spectators of bullfighting are normally disgusted by the killing of the horses more than anything else.

For Hemingway, the bullfight is not meant to be understood as an equal battle between man and beast. Rather, it is a tragedy, and the tragedy is for the bull who ought to be killed. He writes, "The best of all fighting bulls have a quality, called nobility by the Spanish, which is the most extraordinary part of the whole business" (113), yet Hemingway does not provide any comment on the utter absurdity of the whole business. Hemingway was a writer obsessed with, and in search of true courage in the face of natural danger and fate, and he found it most explicitly in war and in bullfighting.

However, some readers will be surprised to find that `Death in the Afternoon,' is not simply about bullfighting. Hemingway also expounds quite at length about his views on art and the craft of writing. He says: "When writing a novel, a writer should create living people; people not characters. A character is a caricature" (191). Unfortunately, Hem was never fully successful at creating a living woman, but every writer has a weakness. "A serious writer may be a hawk or a buzzard or even a popinjay, but a solemn writer is always a bloody owl" (192).

Also included in this altogether excellent volume is a collection of stunning photographs depicting various stages of the bullfight and various matadors of fame; there are also fascinating portraits of the running of the bulls in Pamplona (echoing those fabulous sequences in `The Sun also Rises'). Additionally, Hemingway has provided the reader with a detailed glossary of important bullfighting terms for true aficionados. Originally published through Scribner in 1932
data di revisione 04/21/2020
Wall Witham

This book is better in what it intends to do rather than what it achieves.
One should think that of all writers, Hemingway would be the ideal person to delve into the beauty and majesty of bull-fighting, and he certainly was knowledgible. The issue for me comes for several angles.

First, the book is in desperate need of structuring, and the aid of a skillful editor to help guide Hemingway. Also, there is a lot of critiquing of specific fighters that are repetative and mean nothing to those nowadays. In fact this is an issue for any contemporary reader: much of the book is designed as a travel guide for Americans or ex-patriots at the time of its publication. The book would have been better and have had longevity if it was instead a poetic and heroic study of those who fight (human and animal) and the themes of why these acts are important. There are brief moments of such discussion but they come across as broad statements that are not investigated. As detailed as he gets about the elements of the fights, what he somehow misses is the feeling of the movements and (this is a big one) what it is about the fights that are so entrancing. He writes from that point of view that you must agree with him and if you don't than you aren't worth his time. In fact, he should be able to convert those who wouldn't expect to like the subject. He very briefly touches on such connections as how bull-fighting is a metaphor for art and Spain itself, though I wish he worked this more thoroughly

In addition to all the above there is the big issue of the narrator's voice, i.e. Hemingway himself. His voice is pompous, holier than thou, and extremely sexist. There were many times while reading it I felt certain I was reading a parody of Hemingway rather than the true article.

All this being said, the book did make me interested in seeing a bull fight, which is much of the point of it. The problem was that this interest started early and unfortunately started to dwindle as the book went along.
data di revisione 04/21/2020
Staci Idleburg

Fascinatingly morbid yet uniquely engrossing, except when it became redundantly boring. All I can figure is that Hemingway really wanted to be a bullfighter, though I am not sure "Bull Fighter" is the correct term for this activity, "Ritualistic and Methodical Bull Torturer and Slaughterer" seems more appropriate from what I read in this book.

The book does give a very in depth look at Spanish bullfighting in the 1920's and 1930's. The bull fighters of this time are all analyzed by Hemingway, as well as their techniques. My old, hardcover, 1932 copy even contained over 120 pages of black and white photos with descriptions, of the animals, the bullfighters, and the action, including goring and death. A huge glossary of terms at the back of the book also shows Hemingway's unique interpretation of not only the language and terminology of bull fighting, but of Spanish slang. (And by Hemingway's defining of the word Maricon I now see that he was a bit homophobic.)

The book also includes Hemingway telling of the reactions of many people he attended the bull fights with, identifying them only by sex, initials, and age, telling who enjoyed it, who hated it, and why. At the very end of the book, Hemingway also included a short biography of an American bull fighter, Sidney Franklin, who I now have found wrote his own book about his experiences being a bull fighter.

In the end, I am coming away with a curious wondering as to why Hemingway wrote this non-fiction book. All I can figure is that he was really fascinated by the activity, by the fighters, by the culture. He appears to have attended numerous fights. Maybe he wished to be a bull fighter himself, and since he couldn't be one, critiquing and analyzing them, and giving his own interpretation of them made him feel important.
data di revisione 04/21/2020
Colinson Rasinski

4.5 stelle ...

Amazing prose, beautifuly written book...

Before death in the afternoon I knew nothing about bullfighting and all the tradition and honor that lays behind such an ancient spanish tradition.

With Death in the Afternoon, Hemingway shows his point at defending this whole violent world of matadores, picadores, banderilleros and toros de lidia and I respect him for that.

In my opinion, the book is enjoyable not for the topic but for the arguments of this great author...
data di revisione 04/21/2020
Lexi Hotze

I despise bullfighting. It's disgusting. But if someone manages to write 350 pages about bullfighting so enthusiastically and lovingly–describing its nuances, different moves and greatest bullfighters, its pride, heroic feelings, rigid and honorable rules and passion, technicalities, Spanish taverns and the morbid life of the toreri, all while encompassing a vivid picture of the now long-gone Spain of the 30's–that it keeps such a rabid hater of the "sport" as I am glued into the book and, goddamn, to enjoy it, the book is good. It has to be great. And it is. Morte nel pomeriggio is an exceptional book, which makes the too early departure of the writer more saddening than ever.

data di revisione 04/21/2020
Aziza Balthazar

Death in the Afternoon is a non-fiction book by Ernest Hemingway that explores the ceremony and traditions of Spanish bullfighting. Looking at the history and the culture behind bullfighting, the book also explores the dangers and fears being faced. Still considered one of the best books ever written about bullfighting, Death in the Afternoon explores the sport by one of its aficionados.

This is an interesting book, not something I would read normally but I did enjoy it. While I am morally opposed to bullfighting I didn’t have any really knowledge of the sport and culture behind it. So I went into this book with an open mind and a little hesitant. I had never had a good experience with Hemingway in the past; granted I’ve only read one of his novels (The Old Man and the Sea) but it was enough to never go back. I know this is not a good reason not to return but I have to admit I did enjoy the writing styles.

Ernest Hemingway has a very descriptive writing style which makes for some interesting insights; but sometimes too much. I get the impression that he is using humour in some of his writing but it’s so obscure that it either goes over my head or is just downright weird. I know Hemingway was a rather unusual man and had an interesting life but he isn’t someone that I think I will ever understand or connect with in any way. While I’m against bullfighting, Hemingway seems to be an advocate towards it and often wants it to be more violent and deadly.

You have to understand that Ernest Hemingway is an arrogant, sexist, pompous ass and it often comes through in his writing, so you have to take everything he says with a huge grain of salt. I found myself disagreeing with him all too often but still interested in what he was saying. I went into this book knowing that Hemingway and I weren’t going to get along at times, which was lucky because I was ready to throw out any of his opinions that didn’t align with mine. I did find it interesting how he kept using bullfighting as a metaphor for art and Spain; I don’t know if I agree with this but he seemed was be determined to make this point.

While I’m still opposed to bullfighting, I now have a whole lot more information about the topic; possibly too much. Hemingway’s writing style was enough to make me willing to try something else of his (if I find something good) and this was an interesting and different reading experience. I don’t read enough non-fiction, let alone travel or sports writing so this was a book way out of left field. I’m determined to read more non-fiction now and I hope that I manage to get through at least one a month. Also interesting to see how this review turned out; I’m never know how to approach a non-fiction review and I think I did alright here.

Questa recensione è originariamente apparsa sul mio blog; http://literary-exploration.com/2013/...
data di revisione 04/21/2020
Voe Fossen

As an animal lover, I don't care for the concept of bullfighting; but I am interested in cultural traditions, and in the sociology of sports. Death in the Afternoon told me more about bullfighting than I probably need to know - the level of detail is exhaustive, and much of it is so of-the-moment journalistic that, if Hemingway's name were not attached to the book, few would read it today. Indeed, the book is most interesting for the insights it provides into the mindset of a major writer (not all of them reassuring) and as an example of his style.

That style, by the way, is often misrepresented as unproblematically readable because Hemingway typically uses simple words. Ah, but the sentences he uses them in can be quite grammatically elaborate, sometimes almost ostentatiously so, and repetitive in the manner of Gertrude Stein (who of course influenced Hemingway greatly). For example:

"Cagancho's cowardice when he has to kill is more than disgusting. It is not the sweating, dry-mouthed fear of the nineteen-year-old boy who cannot kill properly having been too frightened of it with big bulls ever to take the chances necessary to attempt it in order to learn to dominate it properly and so is sick afraid of the horn. It is a cold-blooded gypsy defrauding of the public by the most shameless, anger-arousing obtainer of money under false pretences, that ever went into a bull ring."

This is quite splendid in its way, with wonderful phraseology - "dry-mouthed fear", "sick afraid of the horn", "cold-blooded gypsy defrauding of the public", "obtainer of money under false pretences". Yet even the most fluent literary reader might have to take two or three passes at that second sentence in order to decode the grammar. You almost have to mentally diagram many of Hemingway's sentences to parse their syntax. To say that they are knotty is an understatement.

A particular stylistic highlight of the book is the last chapter of the main text (#20), in which Hemingway describes everything he DIDN'T include in Death in the Afternoon and delivers his own self-verdict: "No. It is not enough of a book, but still there were a few things to be said. There were a few practical things to be said."

That is a great ending.

The 75-page "Explanatory Glossary" that follows the main text is a quite fun read.

As for Hemingway's philosophy of blood sports, I wasn't in the least convinced, but of course I wouldn't be. You'll have to see for yourself if you are.
data di revisione 04/21/2020
Baiel Bemrich

Valutazione effettiva 3.4

As far as non-fiction writing goes, this is probably the best piece I’ve read so far. I’ve still got a ton of Jane Didion to read, but this is going to take some beating.

Hemmingway takes you through (what I imagine) is every nook and cranny there is to do with bullfighting. Coming into this with basically no knowledge of the ‘sport’, and a pretty disfavour-able opinion on it, I feel like I could hold my own in most conversations now. I still don’t agree with bullfighting personally, but I have a much better understanding of why so many are so passionate about it.

A fascinating, if not a little bit lengthy of a read.
data di revisione 04/21/2020
Hiett Melman

Vintage Hemingway in which he explores the history, pageantry, art, and culture of bullfighting. He includes information of several matadors and discusses some of the brutality of the sport. It does give a foundation for understanding the event.
data di revisione 04/21/2020
Samella Lotspeich

This book can’t be rushed—even by the true bullfighting aficionado. Hemingway does an earnest job of describing every aspect of bullfighting to a fault. So much so that it loses some of the... romance... of the duel itself. It was a book that forced me to read excerpts at a time to avoid an overload of information. The intent was obviously present, and the prose flow; the sheer amount of information will cause you to reach for a bottle of Tylenol.
data di revisione 04/21/2020
Harmonie Brassell

Capitolo 20:
"If I could have made this enough of a book it would have had everything in it. (...) It should make clear the change in the country as you come down out of the mountains and into Valencia in the dusk on the train holding a rooster for a woman who was bringing it to her sister; (...) No. It is not enough of a book, but still there were a few things to be said. There were a few practical things to be said."
data di revisione 04/21/2020
Fairfax Stusse

As much as I loved Hemingway, I couldn’t finish this. Hemingway encourages his readers to go to a bullfight around a third of the way into the book so they could understand all that he was describing. I went to YouTube. It has been haunting me all day. I tried to continue reading the book after I saw what bullfighting consists of, and of course Hemingway was able to make it rich, meaningful, and beautiful. But that’s just it, I didn’t want it to be those things. It isn’t. Bullfighting is so cruel, excessive, unnecessary. I know it is meaningful for a lot of people, even the men who get gored or lose their lives in the bullring, but I don't think it is beautiful for the bulls who are tortured and lose theirs.
data di revisione 04/21/2020
Yoho Boillot

I am not certain where Morte nel pomeriggio ranks today in the Hemingway canon. It was his first non-fiction piece apart from his journalistic production and, at the time of its publication in 1932, it was not particularly well received. Many found the topic of Spanish bullfighting overly parochial if not repugnant. And there was criticism of Hemingway’s strong judgmental tendencies that covered a gambit of writers and bullfighters. Kenneth Lynn, one of Hemingway’s biographers, wrote in his 1987 Hemingway: “While the side remarks he makes about the art of writing are indispensable to any reader interested in modern literature, his tauromachian erudition is a bore, his tough-guy posturing an embarrassment, and his cutting comments about fellow writers by and large unamusing.”

Those are severe remarks about the book as late as 1987 from a serious student of Hemingway. But for my part, I am not a serious student of his life and works. I’m just a reader. And Morte nel pomeriggio was for me largely enjoyable.

I must admit to some familiarity with bullfighting. While certainly not an dilettante, I have seen and reflected on a gara or two during my several extended stays in Spain. I found much of Hemingway’s discourse instructive and entertaining and certainly accessible to even someone unfamiliar with the art.

[As a note, Hemingway defines an dilettante: “The aficionado, or lover of the bullfight, may be said, broadly, then, to be one who has this sense of tragedy and ritual of the fight so that the minor aspects are not important except as they relate to the whole. Either you have this or you have not, just as, without implying any comparisons, you have or have not an ear for music.”]

Il festa nazionale is an aspect of Spain woven into its fabric. That is not to say that it is significantly definitional. The sport of soccer is certainly far more popular today than the art of bullfighting and is probably the true festa nazionale. But bullfighting does have its adherents and it has worked its way into the language and culture. There are moments when matadors dominate the public consciousness. During the 1960’s, for example, Manuel Benítez Pérez (El Cordobés) was much discussed. And today, figures like Francisco Rivera Ordóñez and his brother, Cayetano Rivera Ordóñez, are capturing journalistic ink and female hearts.

What is the value of Morte nel pomeriggio? Hemingway’s work on bullfighting was unique at the time of its publication: there was nothing as complete and entertaining in English to describe one thread of the Spanish fabric. As far as I know, nothing in English has replaced it. There are several works in Spanish but only Hemingway for an English speaking audience. And it is not only the text that remains informative but the extensive photos and the equally extensive glossary.

For me the study is more than a mere treatise on bullfighting, however. Weaving through the tome is a reflection on death, a theme that Hemingway himself will pick up with growing intensity in his future writings. But he begins it here. One focal point is his “Natural History of the Dead”, a diversion that he inserts in Chapter 12 beginning on page 133. Yet bullfighting itself is an ongoing dance with death and the reader soon sees its linkage with the confrontations between bull and man, hence the book’s title.

It is in this book also where Hemingway defines aspects of writing—both that of others and his own: “erectile writing” (p. 53); mysticism in writing (p. 54); .his “iceberg theory” of writing (p. 192); the connections between writing and painting (p.203). If nothing else, Hemingway holds back no punches whether “unamusing” or not.
data di revisione 04/21/2020
Frasquito Deva

Whatever one's views on bullfighting—even the author himself admitted that it was more tragedy than sport—this book must be considered preeminent in its field. If I had to reduce my Hemingway collection to one, this is the book I'd keep. It's a reference work (complete with glossary) that reads like a novel, and there's even ninety-plus pages of black-and-white photographs at the end that tell a stark and unflinchingly realistic tale all their own.

Hemingway's reason for writing the book was as clear and simple as his writing:

"I was trying to write then...and I found the greatest difficulty...was to put down what really happened. The only place where you could see life and (violent) death now that the wars were over [the book, published in 1932, covers the decade of the 1920s] was in the bull ring. I was trying to learn to write, commencing with the simplest things, and one of the simplest and most fundamental is violent death."

"...to put down what really happened." This Hemingway does, and does brilliantly. Although he himself became an unabashed aficionado of the bullfights, he makes no attempt to glorify the practice and tells "what really happened" right down the line. Along the way, we learn all there is to know about the gara: about the greats as well as the cowards; about how the bulls are selected; about how the fight itself is played out in three stages, or tercios; about technique. There is even advice for the first-time fan on where to sit, depending on what one wishes to watch for in particular. (Bring binoculars if you have them, but remember that it's impolite to focus them on anyone who's not sitting in one of the boxes—the girls in quelli seats consider being looked at a compliment!)

This book is not for the squeamish. It contains graphic descriptions of gorings, up to and including the more-than-occasional disemboweling of the spavined horses ridden by the picadors. (In one passage, Hemingway explains to a mythical Old Lady that the sawdust she saw coming out of one of the horses after a goring had been put there by a veterinarian to fill the void left by whatever missing organ the unfortunate animal had lost in a previous fight. Grim stuff.)

Morte nel pomeriggio is a classic, and well worth your time if you're at all interested in Hemingway and/or bullfighting. The only knock I can put on this book (this edition, at least) is the absence of an index; but that's not enough to keep me from giving it maximum points.

data di revisione 04/21/2020
Puritan Kettmann


I didn't really have any expectations when Carol brought me Ernest Hemingway's Death in the Afternoon as an unabridged audiobook from the library. I love Hemingway: the terseness that, in Death... sometimes approaches self caricature; the depth of thought and conviction beneath the simplicity of the story; the richly textured world his characters inhabit.

I never realized that I love Hemingway's sense of humor. It may be that, in his other works I've read, the humor is overshadowed by his seriousness, by the great man trying to be great. I was prepared for Death... to be a book about bullfighting, but it's really a self- and critic-mocking books about life and performance, and where the two coincide to create art.

The highlight of the book for me revolves around the "old woman," a character that Hemingway creates in the midst of this 'non-fiction' book to stand in place of the bullfighting amateur to whom he may impart his wisdom on bulls, bullfights and bullfighters (and the various venereal disease to which they are prone). At her insistence, he weaves into his book on bullfighting, stories, digressions on art and literature (and the flaws of its critics), and his views on courage.

The most important lesson for us to take from the bullfight is the pride of the matador. A matador deserves to be applauded if he performs all parts of the bullfight honestly and to the best of his ability; we should not hold it against a matador if he is too fat to face the bull in a stately manner, nor if he is too slow of foot to make brilliant passes with the muleta. If he tries truly and passionately and sincerely then what he has done will always be "very fine."

And that is precisely what Hemingway has given us: a very fine book; a nonfiction that is equal parts American essay in the tradition of Emerson and Thoreau and travel writing; a meta(non?)fiction that deconstructs our criticism of its flaws even as they form; a novel through digression that presages works like Nabokov's Pale Fire. It's been quite a while since I enjoyed a book this much.

Lascia una recensione per Morte nel pomeriggio