There are plenty of reasons to want to ban bullfighting, but claiming that it is un-Catalan is simply a stupid lie. John Chappell recently tore into this notion, noting that the 1835 uprising here was triggered by a bad fight, I’ve posted a couple of times (1/2/3), and I’ve just come across a good article by Jacques Durand in Libération (2004/4/22) that lays waste to the whole argument.
Mr Durand certainly knows his stuff, describing 15th and 16th century evidence of fights here; Barcelona’s status from 1927 to the 60s, with its three arenas and profusion of fights, as the centre of Spanish bullfighting; the near-riots when Luis Miguel Dominguín (Picasso was godfather of his third child, Paola, and he finished his career in Barcelona) stayed at Hotel Oriente on la Rambla after the death of Manolete, whose death he was accused of having caused, how he walked from his hotel through a hostile mob to the ring and was carried from it, triumphant, on their shoulders; the Catalans in Céret, over the border, who integrate Catalanism with bullfighting, performing the separatist sardana, La Santa Espina, on the death of the fifth bull during the July fights; the award in 1988 by Pasqual Maragall, then mayor of Barcelona and currently president of the regional government, of the city’s gold medal for artistic merit to bullfighter Joaquín Bernado, a carpenter’s son from the Paralelo/Paral·lel; and he ends pointing out the paradox of a sport involving home-grown talent being declared un-Catalan while el Barça – a Dutch-run team that relies on a Brazilian star to win a game invented by the British – is embraced by the ethnic thought-police. However, what really interested me was the stuff about Mario Cabré.
I’d heard of Mr Cabré as a bullfighter. What I didn’t know was that he was also an actor and a poet (as well as a fashion model and a television presenter). According to Mr Durand, he appeared in Albert Lewin’s Pandora (1951) and financed and played in some 20 pieces by Catalan authors in productions at Barcelona’s Romea Theatre. “I am a bullfighter and a Catalan,” he said, “which is equivalent to being a bullfighter two times over.” His poetry – which Mr Durand says was in Catalan, although I have some doubts (MP3 here) – apparently filled 15 volumes, and, in a poem addressed to Ava Gardner, with whom both he and Dominguín are said to have been familiar, he wrote of the cape with which he entranced his public, “half-sugar, half-water”.
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