Monday, April 28, 2008

The Dangerous Summer

After Mens Vogue spotlighted Spanish bullfighter Cayetano Rivera Ordóñez, I mentioned that in order to get a firmer understanding for the "sport" and its place and role in Spanish society, I would start by reading Hemmingway's The Dangerous Summer, which chronicled the 1959 Spanish Bullfighting season and the rivalry between Cayetano's grandfather Antonio Ordóñez and his grand-uncle Luis Miguel Dominguín.

While the piece splendidly looked at the skill and artistry of two of the greatest bullfighters ever, HEmmingway made very little effort to dive into the bullfighting's history and cultural significance.

Papa Ernesto, rather, was nothing short of an aficionado, respected so much so, that he was allotted unparalleled access to not only the events, but also the social circles of the bullfighters themselves - dining, traveling and lodging with both subjects.

While friendly with each of the brothers-in-law, he makes no excuses for whom he favors as the greatest in the world - Cayetano's grandfather Antonio, while he notes that Dominguín is fighting, not out of financial necessity, but rather to keep his place at top of the sport against his foe.

The book's title indicates the effect this rivalry has on its competitors - each trying more dangerous maneuvers to up the ante against the other. The result, predictably, is injuries - namely horns to the legs, abs and intestines.

Bullfighting continues to pique my interest, but unfortunately, while I enjoyed The Dangerous Summer, I still consider myself uneducated about the true meaning behind it.

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