A Troubled History
Distributed for Reaktion Books
Translated by Sue Rose
“Bullfighting is the only art in 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,” wrote Ernest Hemingway in Death in the Afternoon. Art? Ritual? Sport? Cruelty? Though opinions are divided, one thing is certain—bullfighting sparks passionate responses. Supporters argue that bullfighting is a culturally important tradition stretching back thousands of years; while animal rights groups argue that it is cruel and barbaric, causing unnecessary suffering to both bulls and horses. In Bullfighting: A Troubled History Elisabeth Hardouin-Fugier brings clarity to this debate through an exploration of the long history of killing bulls as public spectacle.
This book is the first cross-cultural study of bullfighting, covering Europe, North America, and Latin America. Hardouin-Fugier shows how each continent has its own unique style and tools of the trade. For example, in North America, the favored technique is grabbing the bull by the horns, and in Europe the bull is run through with a sword. In the late 1700s bullfights became mass leisure activities, with paying spectators packing into arenas—the classic bullfight of popular imagination. It was at this time that the bullfight became a big business and the bullfighter became a celebrity. In this vivid and comprehensive history, Hardouin-Fugier also explores the extensive influence of the bullfight on art, literature, and culture from the paintings of Goya to the writings of Georges Bataille.
Enriched with many fascinating and sometimes disturbing illustrations, Bullfighting presents a discerning and intelligent approach to a divisive practice. Hardouin-Fugier’s informative history will enthrall anyone who has been curious about bullfighting—supporters and detractors alike.