Sue Burke (mount_oregano) wrote,
Sue Burke

Hemingway's self-confessed lack of courage in Pamplona

Fifty years ago, Ernest Hemingway paid his last visit to Pamplona. This year's fiestas include a tribute: photography exhibit and the 1st International Ernest Hemingway Doubles and Impersonators Contest. The winner was Tom Grizzard, who is also the 2008 winner of the Hemingway Lookalike Contest held at Sloppy Joe's Bar in Key West, Florida. He was ecstatic.

More about the tribute here:

And the winner:

Hemingway used to stay at the five-star La Perla Hotel in Pamplona in a room with a balcony that overlooked the running of the bulls. These days, the room is available during the fiestas for €1,600 per night, or about US$2,200.

His articles as a reporter and most of all his novel The Sun Also Rises made the running of the bulls famous worldwide, and Pamplona now considers itself "one of the most universal festivals." The city is pleased to host international visitors (and I suppose space aliens from across the universe if they decide to attend).

But when he came the first time in 1923, he and his wife were the only English-speakers in town. He wrote about courage in this excerpt from his 1923 article for the Toronto Star Weekly on the bulls of Pamplona.

"... And if you want to keep any conception of yourself as a brave, hard, perfectly balanced, thoroughly competent man in your wife's mind never take her to a real bull fight. I used to go into the amateur fights in the morning to try to win back a small amount of her esteem but the more I discovered that bull fighting required a very great quantity of a certain type of courage of which I had an almost complete lack the more it became apparent that any admiration she might ever develop for me would have to be simply an antidote to the real admiration for [bullfighting stars] Maera and Villalta. You cannot compete with bull fighters on their own ground. If anywhere. The only way most husbands are able to keep any drag with their wives at all is that, first there are only a limited number of bull fighters, second there are only a limited number of wives who have ever seen bull fights...."

Tags: bulls, spanish

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