Death and Money in the Afternoon: A History of Spanish Bullfighting

Death and Money in the Afternoon: A History of Spanish Bullfighting

by Adrian Shubert
     
 

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Bullfighting has long been perceived as an antiquated, barbarous legacy from Spain's medieval past. In fact, many of that country's best poets, philosophers, and intellectuals have accepted the corrida as the embodiment of Spain's rejection of the modern world. In his brilliant new interpretation of bullfighting, Adrian Shubert maintains that this view is…  See more details below

Overview


Bullfighting has long been perceived as an antiquated, barbarous legacy from Spain's medieval past. In fact, many of that country's best poets, philosophers, and intellectuals have accepted the corrida as the embodiment of Spain's rejection of the modern world. In his brilliant new interpretation of bullfighting, Adrian Shubert maintains that this view is both the product of myth and a complete misunderstanding of the real roots of the contemporary bullfight.
While references to a form of bullfighting date back to the Poem of the Cid (1040), the modern bullfight did not emerge until the early 18th century. And when it did emerge, it was far from being an archaic remnant of the past--it was a precursor of the 20th-century mass leisure industry. Indeed, before today's multimillion-dollar athletes with wide-spread commercial appeal, there was Francisco Romero, born in 1700, whose unique form of bullfighting netted him unprecedented fame and wealth, and Manuel Rodriguez Manolete, hailed as Spain's greatest matador by the New York Times after a fatal goring in 1947. The bullfight was replete with promoters, agents, journalists, and, of course, hugely-paid bullfighters who were exploited to promote wine, cigarettes, and other products. Shubert analyzes the business of the sport, and explores the bullfighters' world: their social and geographic origins, careers, and social status. Here also are surprising revelations about the sport, such as the presence of women bullfighters--and the larger gender issues that this provoked. From the political use of bullfighting in royal and imperial pageants to the nationalistic "great patriotic bullfights" of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, this is both a fascinating portrait of bullfighting and a vivid recreation of two centuries of Spanish history.
Based on extensive research and engagingly written, Death and Money in the Afternoon vividly examines the evolution of Spanish culture and society through the prism of one of the West's first--and perhaps its most spectacular--spectator sports.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
An impressive achievement of tone and scholarship over the usual bombast, this book is recommended for Spanish culture or large sports collections.
Renee Graham
Shubert...has written extensively about Spain, and his knowledge of that nation shines....With textbook precision, he reveals how the corrida shaped Spain's culture and provided the blueprint for the modern sporting industry.
Boston Globe
Salvador A. Oropesa
Shubert's book reads like a novel; it is fascinating and informative....This one volume will delight people interested either in Spanish culture, bullfighting, or the social history of the commercialization of leisure.
News and Observer, Raleigh

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780195095241
Publisher:
Oxford University Press, USA
Publication date:
05/01/1999
Pages:
288
Product dimensions:
5.70(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.10(d)

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What People are saying about this

Paul Preston
Adrian Shubert's book on bullfighting is a major contribution to the social history of modern Spain but it is also much more—a scholarly, witty and endlessly fascinating book which helps us understand many of the enigmas of the recent Spanish past.
—(Paul Preston, Principe de Asturias Chair of Contemporary Spanish History and Director of the Ca�ada Blanch Centre for Contemporary Spanish Studies, London School of Economics. Author of Franco: A Biography, The Triumph of Democracy in Spain and The Coming of the Spanish Civil War)
Carolyn Boyd
An original and persuasive interpretation of an institution that has been intimately identified with Spanish society by Spaniards and foreigners alike for more than two centuries. Drawing on archivl evidence, travelers' accounts, trade journals, and legislative and political sources, as well as from the massive secondary literature, Adrian Shubert argues that, as an early and highly successful example of a commercialized leisure activity, the bullfight was `one of the most modern things in Spain' in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. This is an engaging work of social history that will be of interest to general readers as well as specialists in the field.
—(Carolyn Boyd, Chair and Professor of History, University of Texas, Austin)
Richard Kagan
A remarkable and wholy successful book. Offering a new interpretation of this most Spanish of Spanish pastimes, Shubert liberates the corrida from the machismo attributed by Hemingway and other foreign writers. In a word, capitalism is in, romanticism out, as Shubert, examining the business-side of the corrida, rightly sees bullfighting as a pioneer institution in the commercialization of leisure and sport. In doing so, moreover, Shubert alters the traditional view of Spain as a country out of step with modernity itself. Lucidly written, this book—like the bullfight itself—deserves a wide audience.
—(Richard Kagan, Professor of History, Johns Hopkins University)
Stanley Payne
Shubert's study is a delight. This is clearly the best one-volume social history of the classic bullfight available in any language.
—(Stanley Payne, Professor of History, University of Wisconsin, Madison)

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Meet the Author

Adrian Shubert is Professor and Chair of the Department of History at York University, Toronto, Canada. Named a Comendador de la Orden de Merito Civil by King Juan Carlos, Shubert is author of The Land and People of Spain, A Social History of Modern Spain, and Spain at War. He lives in Toronto.

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