Cover image for Death and money in the afternoon : a history of the Spanish bullfight
Death and money in the afternoon : a history of the Spanish bullfight
Shubert, Adrian, 1953-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Oxford University Press, 1999.
Physical Description:
270 pages : illustrations ; 22 cm
Format :


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GV1108.5 .S58 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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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 newinterpretation 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 fatalgoring 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 geographicorigins, 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 patrioticbullfights" 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.

Author Notes

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 inToronto.

Reviews 1

Booklist Review

In our modern world, leisuretime activities are extremely common and very plentiful, but this was not always the case. Shubert's well-researched history of bullfights throughout the centuries reveals the Don King^-like promotion of the bullring even during the eighteenth century; the star treatment given to the matadors, earlier versions of today's high-priced athletes; and the selling of other products (concessions) that went along with promoting the bullfight. Shubert explores the history of the sport as we know it today. Star matadors are featured, most notably twentieth-century legend Manuel Rodriguez Manolete, and an entire chapter is devoted to female bullfighters. Spanish history cannot help but be tied up with bullfighting, especially in terms of economic and social aspects of Spanish culture. For those interested in bullfighting, Shubert's work is incredibly thorough, and his prose, though occasionally dry, is glib enough to keep even the most casual observer engrossed. --Joe Collins