The vivid images of the romantic region of Andalusia that Allen Joseph described in his engaging book White Wall of Spain: the Mysteries of Andalusian Culture are still fresh in my mind. In that book there was a chapter dedicated to bullfighting in which the author showed his thorough knowledge of the subject as well as his sensitive perceptions and love for the fiesta brava. Nevertheless, I felt that Allen had a lot more to say about the subject than he covered in that chapter. Well, my curiosity was soon to be satisfied since I just received the news release New from University Press of Florida notifying that the University Press of Florida had recently published the book Ritual and Sacrifice: The Saga of César Rincón written by Allen Joseph, in which the author takes the readers inside the bullfighting world while narrating the life of César Rincón and relating the experiences he shared with the Colombian matador on the corrida circuit during four bullfighting seasons.
I will summarize information from the news release about the author and the content of the publication, and I will quote some comments from two authors who had previewed Joseph's book.
Allen Joseph is a professor at the University of West Florida. He is a world-known Hemingway scholar and past president of the Ernest Hemingway Foundation and Society. He published the already mentioned book about Andalusia, four critical editions of the poetry of Garcia Lorca as well as numerous articles appearing in prestigious national newspapers and magazines. But in addition to knowledge of the Spanish culture and the fiesta brava, he brings to his taurine writing an accumulation of 30 years of personal experience as a passionate aficionado. I met Allen in Providence, RI, when attending a meeting of the Taurine Bibliophiles of America. There we talked about the fiesta brava, and we even practiced toreo de salón. Since I commented to Allen that he showed his know-how and good style when practicing the moves, he told me that this was a result of his adventures as a practicing young aficionado in Seville, where he trained with John Fulton and fought some calves on the local ranches.
The book's central theme is a portrait of the Colombian matador César Rincón. It relates his interesting life, from his humble beginnings in the slums of Bogotá until the present. It includes the narration of his overwhelming triumphs in Madrid's bull ring in 1991, where César broke the records of salidas por la Puerta Grande, and the narrative emphasizes the matador's last four seasons, when professor Joseph followed him on the corrida circuit in Spain, France, and South America. The press release states that "Joseph develops a close and privileged relationship with him and is able to reveal an insider's view of the bullfighter's life and of the fiesta brava ("Wild feast") itself, never seen by the spectator."
Muriel Feiner and Donald Junkins, two writers and knowledgeable aficionados have previewed the book, and they have made many positive comments about the quality and interest of Joseph's new book. Muriel, the American taurine writer, author of The Mujer en el Mundo de los Toros, who resides in Madrid, has this to say: "Brilliant, flowing prose, makes the often unknown and misunderstood spectacle of bullfighting comprehensible, vibrant and even impassioned to a general readership…with this tremendous and impressive investigative work, Joseph's contribution to the true cause of bullfighting will be far greater than even Hemingway's Death in the Afternoon." Furthermore, Dr. Junkins, a professor at the University of Massachusetts and the author of Journey of a Corrida (1999), joins Feiner in praising Joseph's work, with the following poetic prose: "Beautifully written book, dripping with the beauty of the Spanish earth, and its action paragraphs vibrate with the details of Spain's ancient, mysterious pageant of nobility and passion. In this adventure, we the readers come to know the heroism and courage of both bull and torero. This book will instantly joint the limited list of modern classics of the Spanish corrida"
When good writers and knowledgeable aficionados of the fiesta brava such as Muriel Feiner and Donald Junkins, do not hesitate with the their praise to encourage us to read Ritual and Sacrifice: The Saga of César Rincón, I must confess that I am eager to have Allen Joseph's literary work about bullfighting in my hands.
NOTE: Ritual and Sacrifice: The Saga of Cesar Rincón can be order by calling 1-800-226-3822 or by visiting the New from University Press of Florida Web site http://www.upf.com
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