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Death in the Afternoon

3.69  ·  Rating details ·  8,013 ratings  ·  467 reviews
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 athleticis ...more
Paperback, 496 pages
Published September 6th 2000 by Vintage (first published 1932)
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Average rating 3.69  · 
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J.L.   Sutton
Jun 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Petra wonders how life without books would be?
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, ...more
Jul 18, 2011 rated it really liked it
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.

Roy Lotz
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?

All: Yes, yes.

Lotz: Good. Now did anybody like it?

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

Lotz: Ok, you can go then.

Businessman: Really, this whole business sounds crude and wasteful.

Lotz: You are dismissed.

Shopkeeper: I’d never let my child
Glenn Sumi
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
Ahmad Sharabiani
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 th
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 ...more
Apr 22, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
This is a work of non-fiction,which is all about Hemingway's obsession with bullfighting and he goes into considerable detail about its various aspects.

For me,personally,it was a difficult book to read as I consider bullfighting something very cruel.The sight of death to please the crowd ! I skimmed through the book.

Hemingway goes into a lot of technicalities of what the bullfighter needs to do.At times he refers to him bluntly as "the killer" and a great killer must love death.Bullfighting in H
Jan 27, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: american, 2018, nonfiction
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.
Apr 07, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The bullfight was every bit as controversial an institution when Ernest Hemingway's now much neglected Death in the Afternoon 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
Apr 10, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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 f ...more
aPriL does feral sometimes
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 clo
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 nowada
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
Jan 10, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 i
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'
Oct 07, 2008 rated it liked it
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). Ye ...more
Luis Zamarro Fraile
Apr 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars...

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...
Dec 23, 2020 added it
Shelves: non-fiction
Winter 2020
College reads (I can't believe I had to read a passionate text about bullfighting. F*ing college, amirite? I've hated touradas since I was a child, they are an example of traditions that should end, that not all rituals are worthwhile or positive)
Aug 13, 2021 rated it it was ok
I would read this whenever I had some red wine or chorizo handy, hence why it took nearly a year to finish. There are some great meditations on the art of bullfighting here but as you’d expect it’s so mired in anachronistic histories and technique that it really isn’t worth the bother of reading the whole way through. Hemingway even seems to realise how tedious the work is by shoving in a contrived dialogue with an old lady and speaking about Faulkner and how to write at some points. I read this ...more
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 oppose
Julius Lehtinen
Jan 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018, bookshelf
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 matadors, 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, god ...more
May 05, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
totally awesome. i want to go to mexico or spain again as soon as possible.
Antonina Clarke
Jan 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
one of my favorite books about God.
Patrick Murtha
Jul 08, 2017 rated it liked it
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 a ...more
I didn’t finish this… I read this because I needed details about bullfighting for my book about my grandfather. In one of his numerous letters he describes seeing a bullfight in Mexico City in 1940, and his description of the paradox between death and art is on par with Hemingway (not to compare my grandfather’s folksy Kansas prose to his… but they were both sort of cut from the same hyper masculine cloth). My grandfather writes about getting swept up in the crowd and being mesmerized by the vio ...more
Jan 27, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Actual rating 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 person
Simply stated... if you want to know about bullfighting in Spain...this is the book!
Hemingway provides the reader with a 'text book' on bullfighting along with his own personal thoughts and observations on same.
Hemingway takes you into the ring, explains the process completely, discusses the bulls and the matadors of the time and the 'art' of the bullfight along with what may be considered the plusses and minus.
Included are many pictures, some quite graphic, of the action as well as a glossary o
Fredrick Danysh
Jun 27, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: animals
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.
David A. Guinee
May 17, 2020 rated it it was ok
I am a long-time fan of Hemingway, and this book has probably been on my shelf for nearly forty years. It came down during the virus. His prose is always good, and there are passages about writing that are brilliant. But I find much of the book tedious.
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Literary Exploration: Thoughts on Bullfighting 20 49 Oct 16, 2013 06:25AM  
Literary Exploration: Death in the Afternoon - Final Thoughts 3 25 Sep 11, 2013 11:05AM  
Literary Exploration: Death in the Afternoon - First Impressions 11 45 Sep 02, 2013 09:07AM  

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Ernest Miller Hemingway was an American author and journalist. His economical and understated style had a strong influence on 20th-century fiction, while his life of adventure and his public image influenced later generations. Hemingway produced most of his work between the mid-1920s and the mid-1950s, and won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1954. He published seven novels, six short story collec ...more

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