01 October 2009

Homage to Catalonia

Directly related to my entry on the corrida in San Miguel, an article in The New York Times today, In a Spanish Region, a Twilight of the Matadors, regarding the imminent banning of bullfighting in Catalonia is the best piece of writing on that subject in English that I have encountered since Hemingway. (I must quickly admit here that I have not “encountered" any writing on the subject in any other language. It would be difficult for me to read.) It appears to be a completely even-handed account of the situation there, too.

There is a particular passage in that Times article that really caught my attention. It just so happens that I am knee deep in George Orwell's account of his participation in the Spanish Civil War on the Republican side in the thirties fighting in opposition to the army in rebellion against that Republic led by General Franco, who is usually referred to as “Fascist.” By way of further quick background, Barcelona was a bastion of the Republican side. That book is of course Homage to Catalonia. In that book I found this passage:

Barbastro, though a long way from the front line, looked bleak and chipped. Swarms of militiamen in shabby uniforms wandered down the streets, trying to keep warm. On a ruinous wall I came upon a poster from the previous year and announcing that “six handsome bulls” would be killed in the arena on such and such a date. How forlorn its faded colours looked! Where were the handsome bulls and the handsome bullfighters now? It appeared that even in Barcelona there were hardly any bullfights nowadays; for some reason all the best matadors were Fascists. [Emphasis mine.]

How interesting to bump into that Times article and this passage at very nearly the same time.

I learned a new word. Toreo. The implicit explanation of the subtle distinction between that word and corrida by the Times writer was enlightening, too.

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