TAURINE BIBLIOPHILES OF
AMERICA CATALOGUES BULLFIGHT
In September the Taurine Bibliophiles of America---TBA---, published La Busca XLVII, 2 & 3, 2010- Bullfight Literature in English: An Annotated Bibliography.
Before commenting upon the content and other aspects of this publication I would like to share some information about the TBA organization.
The average American might think that the bullfighting theme in American literature is a subject that was monopolized by Ernest Hemingway, since almost everyone knows that this genial author wrote about toreo in Death in the Afternoon. However, it is not common knowledge that before and after Hemingway, many other English-speaking authors wrote, or translated, books in which bullfighting was the central or secondary theme.
Some of those books with a taurine content have been written by authors such as James Michener, Barnaby Conrad, Allen Josephs or Muriel Feiner, and some of their works have enjoyed success in the book market, and their publications have also found room on the shelves of the American public and in private libraries. Nevertheless, most of the English language literary production dealing with taurine themes received little notice, and most of those books would possibly have ended up in landfills. However, an American organization came to the rescue offering a forum to the persons interested in reading and collecting books with taurine content. The organization effecting this rescuing is the Taurine Bibliophiles of America.
Many of the Americans aficionados became interested in bullfighting after reading Ernest Hemingway. Then, living in a country where bullfighting is not part of the culture, especially at a time when there was no Internet, where one can find bullfighting information, or see corridas, videos or taurine programs, they relied primarily on taurine literature to keep their interest in toreo alive. In the process some of these aficionados also became interested in this type of literature per se. The problem was how to find other persons with whom they could share their new interest. The solution was found by the late Bob Archibald, who in 1964 founded Taurine Bibliophiles of America to connect the taurine bibliophiles with each other.
The organization at the time of its founding included only ten members, who were dedicated to collecting taurine books. These members resided in different parts of the United Stares, which made it impossible to have regular meetings. Therefore, in order to share information about books, they started to use mimeographed newsletters which they named La Busca, which in Spanish means to ‘the search”. Today TBA has approximately one hundred members spread all over the world, and in order to keep them informed about taurine literature, TBA no longer uses newsletters, but distributes the well-edited magazine La Busca.
La Busca is published quarterly. The contents include reviews of new and old books, and essays about authors, book collecting, and other taurine subjects as well as information and discussions of TBA matters. Most of the material published in the magazine is contributed by TBA members. Furthermore, the publication provides a service to the members to facilitate the buying, selling and exchanging of books and magazines, including some written in Spanish or other languages. Also, lately, the magazine has included information about bullfight films. For the selection and quality of published material due credit should be given to the dedicated past and present editors who have given so generously oftheir time and efforts. They were Bob Archibald (1964-5); Allan Zirlin/Roger Burgos (1966-9); Nancy Slayton/George; Smith (1970-5); Nancy Slayton (1976-82); Don Conover (1982-9); Ray Turner (1990-3); Jane Hurwitz/Don Conover/ Ray Turner (1994-7); Jack Bona/ Jane Hurwitz (1998-9); Jack Bona/David Tuggle (1999-2000); and David Tuggle (2003-present).
Also, an important function of TBA is the cataloguing of the existing books written in English that contain some taurine content. Ross Phelps, who was the fourth president of TBA (1980-9), has been the official Bibliographer from 1979 until 2004. In 2005 Farrell Brody, who had been collaborating with Ross for several years, took over the position of primary Bibliographer. When members acquire a book, new or old, or they learn about the existence of one, they report it to the Bibliographer, whose job consists of recording the new titles so the TBA Catalogue is kept updated.
TBA published its first bulletin in 1965 and in it listed about 100 titles of books in English in possession of its members. Later, in 1989, to commemorate 25 years of its existence, the organization published its first official catalogue La Busca-25th Anniversary Special Edition 1964-1989, compiled by Ross Phelps. It listed 1,274 titles. The second catalogue appeared in 1999, and it listed 834 more titles than were indexed in the 1989 inventory. The publication was titled La Busca -35TH Anniversary Special and was authored by Ross Phelps, Farrell Brody and David Tuggle, and in September 2010 TBA published its new updated bibliography.
The new bibliography was compiled and edited by Farrell Brody with the assistance of some members of TBA. It is dedicated to Bob Archibald (1928-2000), the founder of TBA. The content is organized in four sections: I. Introduction, II. Bullfight Literature in English (pgs 1-11); Annotated Bibliography (pgs 12-236); III. Taurine Filmography (pgs 237-252), and IV Appendices (pgs 253-260).
The first section contains general information about TBA as well as laudatory testimonials essays from past TBA presidents Ross Phelps, Jack Bona, and current president Gil Arruda, authors and TBA members Barnaby Conrad, Allen Josephs and Muriel Feiner and from me, a retired matador.
The second section begins with an introduction by the editor, Farrel Brody, where he explains his criteria for cataloging the 1,743 books appearing in the bibliography, and for adding annotations. He also states the purpose and scope of the new publication. Among other things the editor said that:
Initially prepared as a service to members, the TBA Bibliography is also intended for the benefit of scholars, students, teachers, and others seeking reference to study about the culture and history of bullfighting, the authors of taurine literature, and its connections with the countries where bullfighting has existed. (pg 12)
And he adds:
Perusal of the classifications and bibliographic entries makes it obvious that the Bibliography is conceived to be as inclusive as possible. In other words, this is not only a source for English books about toros, but is a source of information for how bullfighting has been written about in English: in fiction, poetry, travel writings, academic studies, and history. (pg 12).
The third part includes a long listing of taurine films from Spain, France, Mexico and other countries. David Tuggle, the editor of this section, has included in each entrry the original name of the picture, date of filming, country of origin, and the director and names of toreros actually doing the real fighting in the movie.
In the fourth and last section of the biography there are a few appendices which contains some information about TBA and about taurine literature. Maybe the more interesting piece is the article About the Bibliography: a History of Taurine Publication in English, in which Tuggle patiently analyzes the content of the bibliography, identifying the number of books by categories, and mentioning the number of books published during a determined period of time. For instance, Dave mentions that of the 1,743 entries in the bibliography, only 360 are pure taurine books. Among other facts, he highlights that during the decade of the 60’s there were more taurine books published in English with total or partial taurine material, than in any other period: a total of 261.
Last spring when I was asked to write something for the introduction of the Bibliography before the work was published, I knew some details of the content of this work, as well as the dedication of the persons involved in the project, but I had not previewed the finished work, so since I could not comment on specifics, I drew from my personal experience with TBA to express my feelings toward this unique organization, the people and the publications. This is what I wrote:
TBA: My Passport to English Taurine Literature
This TBA Bibliography, edited by Farrell Brody is based on the previous bibliographies that were published in 1975, 1989 and 1999. It has been achieved with the cooperation of Gil Arruda, Jack Bona, Don Conover, Jane Hurwitz, Dave Tuggle and Ray Turner. The bibliography is, without a doubt, an invaluable and unique tool for research for anyone interested in taurine literature in English. However for me, in addition to its value, it is also a reminder of how TBA has helped me get involved on the bullfighting literature world. This is how it happened.
After retiring from bullfighting in June 1960, I immigrated to America, my wife, Sally’s country. My intention was to get a college education, which would help me to start a new life far away from the pressure of bullfighting. We settled in a suburban neighborhood in the outskirts of Baltimore.
I could not have been living further removed from the toreo than in that environment, because I rarely met a person who knew much about bullfighting, or was even slightly interested in the subject. Nevertheless, occasionally, I would meet someone who, upon learning that I was from Spain, would bring up the topic of bullfighting. These people, sooner or later, would tell me that their interest in bullfighting was motivated by their having read Hemingway ‘s Death in the Afternoon.
Little I did know then that very soon the same book was going to crack open the door which introduced me to the world of taurine literature in English. I did not completely enter that world until several years later when TBA swung the door open for me and encouraged me to enter.
My first contact with bullfighting literature in English was by pure chance. It happened when I was enrolled in an American literature exploratory course, and I was lucky that the professor give me the assignment to read Hemingway’s Death of the Afternoon, and to write my term paper about the book. I started the assignment reluctantly, since I had found in reading several newspaper and magazine articles about bullfighting that clichés, exaggerations and misconceptions about the subject abounded. I should not have worried, since the prose of Hemmingway and the interesting way he described toreo, made my assignment a pleasure. It also made me realize that people from different cultures speaking a language other than Spanish could write about bullfighting with great depth, feeling, knowledge and understanding. By the time I finished the assignment I loved the book, and I was ready to read any other book about bullfighting in English that came my way, even if the author was not Hemingway.
Therefore, before I became active in TBA, although I was interested in reading books in English about bullfighting, I did not go out of my way to look for them, but my wife Sally, who incidentally is not an aficionada, did the work for me, since on my birthdays, Christmas or any special occasion she would give me this type of book as a present. So thanks to my wife, I read with great interest more than a dozen books about the subject. Among them were the Encyclopedia of Bullfighting and Gates of Fear by Barnaby Conrad, Bullfight by Norman Mailer, The Swords of Spain, by Robert Daley, Iberia by James Michener, Bullfighting by John Fulton, The Bulls of Parral by Marguerite Steen, and A Thousand Afternoons by Peter Haining.
Then, in the 80’s, also by chance, I entered the world of English taurine literature through the door that TBA opened completely for me. It took place at the home of the Conovers, where a TBA Tertulia was being held, which I was invited to attend, without being a member. There I met a group of interesting aficionados who had channeled their aficion for toreo into collecting tauromaquia books. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience, and right then and there I became a member of TBA.
Since then, although I am not a true bibliophile, my interest in bullfighting books has grown considerably, and now, by exchanging views with other members and by reading La Busca, I have enough information and motivation to buy new and old taurine books myself. This is disappointing to Sally in that she no longer has the chance to give me bullfighting books as presents. I also have become more active in TBA by writing book reviews from to time to time for our magazine.
Also, being a member of TBA has permitted me to meet and converse with member authors of books, such as Allen Josephs, who wrote the White Wall of Spain and Ritual and Sacrifice in the Corrida; Arthur Greenfield, author of Anatomy of Bullfighting; Muriel Feiner of Women and the Bullring; and W. Joe Innis of Also Rising. Their creations have a special place in my library.
Now, this unique Bibliography will join these publications, and I will use it to get information about the books that our bibliophiles have collected throughout the years. This Bibliography will also be a reminder of what TBA means for me: books about bullfighting and good friends who share with me an interest in this specialized literature.