Pamplona- Hemingway

Linares Bullfight August 2016   Fuji XT1 with Fujinon XF 18-135mm © 2016 Miguel Witte

Linares Bullfight August 2016

Fuji XT1 with Fujinon XF 18-135mm © 2016 Miguel Witte

During our stay in Pamplona I spent a morning at the emblematic “Café Iruña”, I walked respectfully through “Calle Estafeta”, the famous street where the running of the bulls is performed, I tasted the delicious tapas served in the many bars and pubs and I couldn’t help but look for a bookshop in order to purchase a copy of Hemingway’s novel “The sun also rises”.


I liked to read the novel as well as watching the film which I easily found on youtube. The action unfolds in Paris and in Pamplona. I particularly enjoyed Hemingway’s description of the bullfights during the “Fiestas” in Pamplona. That way inspired I felt I should go and attend the bullfights here in Linares/Spain later that very summer in order to experience a bit of what is described in the book:

"The town was full of people. We had to wait for a table. After lunch we went over to the [Café] Iruña. It had filled up, and as the time for the bullfight came, it got fuller, and the tables were crowded closer. There was a close, crowded hum that came every day before the bullfight. The café did not make this same noise at any other time, no matter how crowded it was. This hum went on, and we were in it and a part of it.… 

...Romero never made any contortions, always it was straight and pure and natural line. The others twisted themselves like corkscrews, their elbows raised, and leaned against the flanks of the bull after his horns had passed, to give a faked look of danger. Afterward, all that was faked turned bad and gave an unpleasant feeling. Romero’s bullfighting gave real emotion, because he kept the absolutely purity of line in his movements and always quietly and calmly let the horns pass him close each time. He did not have to emphasize his closeness. Brett saw how something that was beautiful done close to the bull was ridiculous if it were done a little way of. I told her how since the death of Joselito all the bullfighters had been developing a technique that simulated this appearance of danger in order to give a fake emotional feeling, while the bullfighter was really safe. Romero had the old thing, the holding of his purity of line through the maximum of exposure, while he dominated the bull by making him realize he was unattainable , while he prepared him for the killing."

(all quotes: Ernest Hemingway, “The sun also rises.”; pages 140 and 145, 146; Arrow Books, London, 2004)

However, it is one thing to read a book or to watch a film that deals with the topic of bullfighting, it is quite another one to attend a real bullfight. Bullfight is art, culture, tradition and elegance, at the same time it is a tough drama and it requires strength on the side of the spectator.

Linares has in the center of the town a long promenade with a row of benches left and right decorated with old local black and white photos. One of the benches displays an image of Ernest Hemingway. I find it nice to meet the photo of the famous foreigner anytime I pass by.

Linares Boulevard   Fuji XT1 with Fujinon XF 56mm f/1.2 R © 2016 Miguel Witte

Linares Boulevard

Fuji XT1 with Fujinon XF 56mm f/1.2 R © 2016 Miguel Witte


Pamplona - Running of the bulls: Wikipedia-article: Running of the Bulls

Hemingway - The sun also rises: Wikipedia-article: "The Sun Also Rises"

Miguel Witte