This blog was begun in 2008 to keep track of my research into the world of bullfighting following an essay of mine for Prospect magazine on the topic. To read the original essay, although sadly without the comments – a record number in the quarter century history of that esteemed British magazine of “politics, economics and current affairs” – click here.
Above you can find pages on the author, an introduction to the structure of the bullfight, a more scientific piece on the nature of the Spanish fighting bull, and how to contact me. Two other posts I would mention here are this one on the popularity of bullfighting in Spain and the often quoted ‘Gallup’ polls, and also this one on the 533 famous professional bullfighters killed in the ring in the past three centuries. However, the standalone piece on this blog, and the product of 20 years research – I saw my first bullfight in the Spring of 2000 – is the long Essay on Bullfighting below.
In the past two decades I have watched over a thousand bullfights, run the bulls myself in Pamplona for a decade along with a dozen other bull-running towns such as Cuéllar and San Sebastián de los Reyes, Tafalla and Falces. I’ve fought alongside matadors in the ring myself and wrote the first two years of those experiences as a national book award shortlisted memoir, Into The Arena: The World Of The Spanish Bullfight, available from Amazon (for Amazon UK click here, US here, Canada here, Australia here and India here.
“Complex and ambitious, compelling and lyrical.”
Mail on Sunday
“An engrossing introduction to Spain’s ‘great feast of art and danger’. Brilliantly capturing a fascinating, intoxicating culture”
“A compelling read, unusual for its genre, exalting the bullfight as pure theatre.”
“He did not expect to fall in love with bullfighting, but then he had his eyes opened by the beauty, dignity and art of the sport.”
“Thrilling. An engrossing introduction to bullfighting.”
“An informed piece of work on a subject about which we are all expected to have a view.”
“Although Fiske-Harrison develops a taste for the whole gruesome spectacle, what makes the book work is that he never loses his disgust for it.” (Daily Mail), “It’s to Fiske-Harrison’s credit that he never quite gets over his moral qualms about bullfighting.” (Financial Times), “Uneasy ethical dilemmas abound, not least the recurring question of how much suffering the animals are put through.” (Sunday Telegraph), “Fiske-Harrison admits that with each of his fights he knows more, not less fear. When he kills his first and only bull he feels not triumph but overwhelming sadness for a life taken.” (Mail on Sunday) and “The question of whether a modern society should endorse animal suffering as entertainment is bound to cross the mind of any casual visitor to a bullfight. Alexander Fiske-Harrison first tussled with the issue in his early twenties and, as a student of both philosophy and biology, has perhaps tussled with it more lengthily and cogently than most of us.”(Literary Review)