novelist, has written a book called Death in the Afternoon,
which is actually a handbook of bullfighting. And in many of his novels and short stories
his heroes are bullfighters.
Writing in Death in the Afternoon on Sidney Franklin, Hemingway
said, "Franklin is brave with a cold, serene and intelligent valor but instead of
being awkward and ignorant he is one of the most skillful, graceful and slow manipulators
of a cape fighting today . . . He is a better, more scientific, more intelligent, and more
finished matador than all but about six of the full matadors in Spain today and the
bullfighters know it and have the utmost respect for him."
Why is the sport so fascinating? For one thing it offers sudden death
in the ring. It is said that a matador has a six-year career. For two years he is on his
way up to the top ranks. For two more years he is at his peak and then he goes downhill.
This process also takes about two years, and often the end is death. The bulls are rough
and tough and they play for keeps. In America auto racing is the only sport which offers
death as one of its possible thrills. And the major races are always jampacked with
people. It seems that danger in sport is always attractive to an audience which remains
out of peril while watching daring men play for high stakes with their lives in balance.
Sidney Franklin attended Columbia University and studied commercial
art. He went to Mexico to study Mayan history and managed to see his first bullfight in
the land south of the border. He was drawn to it and the attraction never ceased. He
decided to make the sport his life work. His Brooklyn family must have been amazed, but
apparently they got used to it, all six brothers and his two sisters.