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Death in the Afternoon Paperback – April 16, 1996

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner; Reprint edition (April 16, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684801450
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684801452
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 1.2 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (78 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #55,493 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"Hemingway's style, at its best, is a superb vehicle for revealing tenderness of feeling beneath descriptions of brutality" Guardian "The most readable and the most nearly exhaustive account of the Spanish Bullfight that we have" -- V.S. Pritchett --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Publisher

8 1.5-hour cassettes --This text refers to the Audio Cassette edition.

More About the Author

Ernest Hemingway ranks as the most famous of twentieth-century American writers; like Mark Twain, Hemingway is one of those rare authors most people know about, whether they have read him or not. The difference is that Twain, with his white suit, ubiquitous cigar, and easy wit, survives in the public imagination as a basically, lovable figure, while the deeply imprinted image of Hemingway as rugged and macho has been much less universally admired, for all his fame. Hemingway has been regarded less as a writer dedicated to his craft than as a man of action who happened to be afflicted with genius. When he won the Nobel Prize in 1954, Time magazine reported the news under Heroes rather than Books and went on to describe the author as "a globe-trotting expert on bullfights, booze, women, wars, big game hunting, deep sea fishing, and courage." Hemingway did in fact address all those subjects in his books, and he acquired his expertise through well-reported acts of participation as well as of observation; by going to all the wars of his time, hunting and fishing for great beasts, marrying four times, occasionally getting into fistfights, drinking too much, and becoming, in the end, a worldwide celebrity recognizable for his signature beard and challenging physical pursuits.

Customer Reviews

He doesn't disregard ethics.
Stefanos Tsimey
If you are interested in bullfighting, Hemingway or Spain you should find this book interesting, enjoyable reading.
Old Gringo
The theme is interesting and as with most hemingway books is found in a title with more than one meaning.
John Stamper

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

49 of 51 people found the following review helpful By RAFAEL on March 4, 2002
Format: Paperback
I am a bullfighter fan ( I am Spanish ) and in my life I have taken to bullfighting to many foreign friends, I know well their point of views about the fiesta in the beginning but when you explain what's all about and the so many rules and regulation a corrida has, and the so many things that are happening but you don't see, they absolutely enjoyed.
I wanted to read this book in English because I would like to know the english vocabulary of the fiesta and how the fiesta was in 1931 that my father used to tell me, after finishing it I have to say that this is absolutely the best book about bullfighting I have ever read so far!.
It is awesome how this american could achieve so vaste knowledge about this matter.
I love the enthusiastic way he describes all the aspects of the fiesta,the bullfighters and their different technics,everything is here, even the two roads which existed in the age to get from Madrid to Seville.
I like very much the comparision he does at the beggining of the book between wine and bullfighting.
I thought I knew a lot about our national party but after reading this book I realised I was partially wrong.
And what to say about the way Hemingway writes... It is absolutely phantastic, pure magic and amazing...
My advice is if after reading this book you want to assist to a corrida do the possible to go with an aficionado you will enjoy the triple!!.
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35 of 37 people found the following review helpful By M. C. Nemeth on January 12, 2001
Format: Paperback
This book is for those who love bullfighting, those who loathe bullfighting and those who would like a few writing tips from a master.
I read this book while I was in Spain, but I did not see a fight until I had finished. Going to a bullfight without knowledge or someone to guide me would have been overwhelming. But seeing the details Hemingway descibes come to life made it that much more exciting.
For those who object to bullfighting you have that right. But don't object without knowing the how's or why's of what goes on. The most eye-opening thing you will see at a fight is the crowd getting upset at a fighter who takes liberties with a bull. Hemingway descibes in detail the purpose for every action taken in the ring, which gives clearity to what looks like cruelty.
And finally, Hemingway gives advice on writing no writer should ignore. "When you write, don't write characters...write people." If you are a writer, whether interested in bullfighting or not, you should read this book for the invaluable advice of a master.
I can hardly think of a better way to spend an afternoon than hanging out with Papa Hemingway.
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful By James Ferguson VINE VOICE on July 10, 2003
Format: Paperback
Hemingway is at his best when discussing the fine art of bullfighting. He demonstrates a great appreciation for the bloodsport without romanticizing it. However, the writing is uneven. He throws in incidental pieces such as his running dialog with an old lady which only serves to detract from the subject. I suppose he was having a little fun with his publishers who probably thought a book on bullfighting wouldn't wash with the general readership, but the old lady becomes a nuissance and I was happy that he dropped her a little over half way through the book.

At the time, bullfighting would have probably seemed foreign to most American readers. But Hemingway notes the handfull of Americans and other expatriates who took part in the corrida. He laments the modernization of the sport in which the art of killing seemed to be lost. He provides an excellent description of the disciplines of bullfighting, the way in which it plays out like a three-act tragedy for the bull.

The time frame is ca. 1930 but it doesn't seem the sport has changed much since then. It is one of the many traditions in Spain that has survived the upheavels of the 20th century. The Socialists tried to eradicate it but failed. Bullfighting takes on a metaphysical aspect in some of the matadors and bulls he describes. It is wonderful reading and a great introduction to the subject.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Jon R. Schlueter on April 5, 2002
Format: Paperback
Hemingway loved bullfighting. And Spain. His affection for these comes across in this book. Death in the Afternoon is also infused with Hemingway's personality, which has been called his greatest artistic creation, and that makes this book especially personal and interesting.
This is a great book to read on a flight to Spain, particularly if you plan to see a bullfight. With your newly-minted expertise in bullfighting, you'll apreciate the pageant much more.
But Death in the afternoon is not just about bullfighting. Hemingway discusses such topics as death, often death, war, writing, art (a comparison of the painters Goya, Velasquez and El Greco), love and Faulkner. This book is more than a guide to bullfighting -- it is good literature.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Ron Braithwaite on July 7, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I am an aficionado of the corrida and, almost necessarily, loved this book. It is the best thing every written on the subject and, although I don't agree with Hemingway's every point, I still enjoy it. The book was written in 1930 and, even then, he decries a certain corruption in the spectacle. He maintains that the bulls have been bred down in size to make it easier for the matador to work and ultimately kill the bull. Maybe, although I haven't seen this tendency during my lifetime.

He also decries the fact that the emphasis is less and less on the killing as opposed to pageantry and hot-dogging [read Mitchener's "Mexico"]. There is some truth in this but, even back in 1930, Madrid was becoming a tourist mecca and, to a certain extent, the matadors were and are playing to unsophisticated audiences. On the other hand, my experience in less touristy areas has been the opposite. The kill, although not the total point of the fight, is definitely the most important part. Pity the poor matador who has a perfect fight only to have his sword, at the "moment of truth", glance off a rib. He won't get two ears and a tail. He'll be lucky if he gets one ear.

I think Hemingway should have more emphasized that the corrida is NOT a sport. It is a tragedy which appeals to the Spanish [and some non-Spanish]mind. It is not meant to be "fair" in the Anglo-Saxon sense of the word. A brave beast rages courageously only to be bloodied, broken and killed. The matador, on his part, needs to be just as brave. If you don't think so, just try to face an enraged 1500 lb beast with a cape and a flimsy sword. To go to a bullfight hoping the matador will be knocked down and gored, would be like going to a ballet and hoping the prima ballerina fall on her face.
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