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Toreo is an art unto itself that must be apprehended in its own terms,"" say the authors in their intense, heavy-breathing, lively discussion of what the common man misleadingly calls bullfighting and which has fascinated such diverse types as blustering Hemingway and stuttering Kenneth Tynan. It is ""a great art that lacks criticism,"" and is stocked with high-minded, quite unexpected references to everyone from Plato to Eliot. The Complete Aficionado attempts, and somewhat accomplishes, an anthropological and literary pedigree for the fiesta brava, replete with a running glossary (banderillero, rejoneo, puntilla), an anatomy of the matador's training and technique, a past-and-present survey of the traditions of the corrida, philological excavations of its origins and myths, an inventory of the novels it has inspired (Montherlant, quite rightly, gets high marks here), and some dramatic snapshots of such famous figures as Manolete, Joselito, Belmonte, and Ordonez. A pamphleteering tone, more than a little aggressive in its assumptions, makes for unappealing stretches, as do the gratuitous indictments of modern culture. (Marc Saporta, incidentally, is French, not American; Sinatra became known in the Forties, not Thirties.) The authors are clearly defenders of the faith, rescuing both torero and toro from romantic cliches, journalistic crudities, and recent vulgarizations (see the attack on Benitez). A committed, vivid, different approach.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1966
Publisher: World