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  1. Dodie Butler says:


    Wow! Until today, I had no idea who you are. My name is Dodie Butler. I’m English but left in 73…have travelled many years and now live in NC, USA.
    Haven’t read your book…but I may do so. Just interesting to see an Englishman who actually likes Bullfighting. Tlovehey say once it gets in your blood…you never recover.
    I lived in Spain for many years, late seventies to mid Eighties. and knew every major Torero fighting at the time. Our closest and dearest friend was Francisco Rivera…Paquirri, up until his death in 84. He was a wonderful man and a great Matador. Many many wonderful memories of him to treasure and all the other great Matadors we knew.
    I’m 65 and Spain is a long way away now, but Taurino still remains alive in my heart. I still hear from Victor Mendes occasionally…another of my favourites. A matador from Potugal…who did very well in Spain.

    Anyway, I kind of connected here, because I read that you have had threats because of your passion for Bullfighting. And I have had them also. People are so quick to judge something they have never seen, nor understand. So I understand your plight and just wanted to say Hello and thanks for Lovetodancestanding up for what I love. I wish you well and much sucess in your future….Dios Te Bendiga~~~


    Dodie Butler

  2. Robert Subiaga Jr says:

    Dear Mr. Fiske-Harrison, I only recently came across your blog and have just started your book–in which I must say I am very engaged and impressed. The complexity of your exploration, and especially the authenticity, is great. (I am a secondary school biology teacher who comes from a combined biology, philosophy, and literary background, yet though I try to weave these in my own classes it’s a pleasant surprise when someone does so in the outside world in a way that resonates with me.)

    I’m very curious as to whether you’ve read or viewed explorations in many ways similar, when it comes to activities that are controversial where some find them brutal and others spiritual or artistic. In particular, I’ve been impressed by some works on MMA (mixed martial arts) and one book I can recommend without reservation is Daniele Bolleli’s “On the Warrior’s Path.” It’d be interesting to get your take on it.

  3. Hello Mr Alexander,
    I am Javier Guerra from Madrid. Me and another two architect collegues started recently a tshirt bussines about spanish folklore, Our first collection is focused on our beloved best toreros in Spain: Morante, Cayetano, Ponce and Talavante.
    It would be an honour if u had the time to watch our designs and we would be gratefull to send you a tshirt.
    This is our website :
    My email address is

    Congrats for your blog.
    Javier Guerra

  4. Crystal Amaral says:

    Hello Mr. Harrison,
    I had a question regarding your work. I also am a great admirer of the art of bullfighting and was curious as to how extensive your work was a far as the way the tradition is played out in other countries such as Portugal, due to the fact that their style of bullfighting is quite distinct from that of Spain. I greatly admire your work, and shall be purchasing your book soon.
    Thank you,
    C. Amaral

  5. Dear Crystal,

    I know of the various styles to be found in Portugal and France, but no more than that. There is talk of a Portuguese edition of the book, and that may lead to me going there to add another chapter. Thank you for the kind words.

    Best wishes,


  6. Harry Wright says:

    Dear Alexander,

    I have recently read your fantastic book, ‘Into the Arena’, and I must say that it was by far my best read of 2012, and one of the best ever! I have also just finished ‘Death in the Afternoon’, and I can honestly say that I think you present the whole topic of la corrida in a more comprehensive, impassioned and engaging way than even the great Mr Hemingway! Congratulations.

    I have loved bullfighting since I went to my first corrida at Las Ventas about a decade ago (I am now 25). I am now trying to plan a trip with my girlfriend and her father (who is similarly keen on bullfighting), and we are going to go to Ronda and Seville over Easter. I know that there is a corrida in La Maestranza on Easter Sunday, and I really want to get hold of some good tickets. However, I am aware that this is far from an easy task…and I am really writing to (rather cheekily) as for your advice on how one should best go about this task. I’d be very grateful for any tips.

    My only regret is that I am struggling to get hold of further copies of your book on Amazon – so if you can tell me where I can buy more of them I’d also be very grateful!

    Happy new year, and un gran abrazo.

    Harry Wright.

  7. I was interested to see that El Juli is booked for Miuras in Seville this year. Were you surprised? I was!
    I would be interested in your view.

  8. Hello,
    IMPRESSIVE ARTICLE. My name is Hugo, I’m from Perú. I now live in Miami, Florida. I grew up watching bullfights in Lima, Perú. As a kid I would go to the “puerta de cuadrillas” and tried to get the bullfighter’s autographs, and I did. I met Paquirri, Paco Camino, Palomo Linares, and many more. It was the late 70s, great Toreros back then.
    As I grew up, I began to understand why a lot of people are against the “Corridas de toros”. And like you, just like you I‘m caught right in the very middle of love and hate. Today I can understand if they abolish bullfighting but I will DEFINITELY miss them. The passion about them came into me when I was a child, and it will never leave me.
    Your article tells the truth. Anybody can have an opinion about whether a bullfighting is right or wrong, and will respect those opinions, but NOBODY can argue the fact that bullfighting is an ART, and a very beautiful one. The moves, the forms, the expressions, and the emotions that a bullfighter delivers to the audience are as good as any other type of performance.
    Thank you.

  9. AFH, I have just finished reading Into The Arena, which I heard about through some taurine web-surfing. Many congrats on an extraordinary work – I could gladly have greedily read in one sitting, but I wanted to make it last! I had seen the video and still images of Padilla, and am amazed at his bravery in coming back so quickly (or at all) after the horrific Zaragoza experience. He seems to be a real character – good for a night out in Seville!

    I lived in Madrid for 5 years from 2000-2005, and saw about 20 corridas, all but 2 in Las Ventas – in reality a collection of good feria material, some rejoneo, more than a few poor Sunday afternoon corridas in Ventas, and a couple of reasonable afternoons (one with Enrique Ponce) up in the little ring after the encierros in San Sebastián de Los Reyes. My first was actually a novillada at San Isidro on 16 May 2000, with 6 novillos-toros of La Quinta for Martin Antequera, Fernando Robleño and Antonio Barea, in which Martin Antequera had to kill all 6 bulls, the other two being dispatched to the infirmary. I subsequently met Antequera innthe tend idols of Las Ventas, and reminded him of that evening.

    I won’t bore you with the details, but I remember entering the Monumental with more than a little fear and trepidation, and ending it with elation and a sort of visceral excitement at the whole spectacle. I had an English aficionado, Andrew Moore, talking me through the whole thing, including predicting the cogida of Robleńo as he told me how the bull was developing sentido. No pun intended – but I was hooked for life.

    Great work, Maestro, and again many congratulations. Thanks also for assisting me in marshaling my arguments, as an apologist for la fiesta nacional.

    Any other taurine literature recommendations?


  10. Dawn Smith says:

    Hola Alexander
    I looked you up after watching an “Animals Attack” programme. My curiosity was sparked when it described you as a “bull-fighter”, your name and exquisite British accent were contrary to my perception of Matador. I lived in Estepona (famous Plaza de Toros), from 2004 – 2009 and I am well aware how passionate and proud most Spanish are regarding this aspect of their culture.
    I personally chose not attend a bull-fight, not because I disagree with this custom but because I really haven’t got the stomach for it, in the same way I will avoid most David Attenborough documentaries…..(or at least the predator/prey ones)
    I love Spain and I love the Spanish people, their passion for life is a lesson to us all and can only be truly appreciated and embraced by living amongst them.
    The subject of the Bull-fight was discussed with as many of Spanish friends as it was ex-pats, and there are many Spanish who view this sport/spectacle as cruel and we know how vehement the British are in their condemnation of any kind of animal cruelty, but it is all in perception. I read an article where you described the hypocrisy of the “family roast dinner”, which is so true. We don’t really like to think about what our beef was before it arrives with Yorkshire pud and gravy, but if we did, would we be so ready to condemn.
    Bulls bred for the Bull-Fight live a life of relative “bull luxury” and when the end comes though it might not be as swift as an abattoir annihilation, the slaughter of the Bull seems less senseless because in Spain, no part of the beast is wasted. Can we as a nation of self-proclaimed animal lovers say the same?
    The on going debate and controversy over this subject has prompted some towns in Spain to adopt the “animal-friendly” bull-fight which does not result in the death of the Bull, in the hope of attracting more visitors. Do you agree with this?
    Can you still capture the magic, mystic and machismo of the Bull-fight without the slaughter of the mighty beast?
    I would be interested to hear your views on this.



  11. Alexander, your book Into the Arena is very good–I am partway thru Chapter 14 and the description of the emotions or the lack thereof by Cayetano, Fandi and Manzanares is very compelling, especially after my having been through a private week-long bullfighting class recently. Much of what I had read prior to that chapter did not resonate until I went through the class, and getting a step deeper gave me a strong sense of what you were trying to reach for in your book. My fascination with bullfighting has spanned 50 years. I am now 60 and still love it.

    Yes, I was also hoping you might be in Pamplona in the next few days–I am there from the 9th to the 12th and then to Bilbao. Regardless, if not, I was hoping for some sort of connection and correspondence.

    Please see my website,, to learn about me. I’ve had a brush with international fame with that effort, replete with the media rush as well as a couple of weirdos, so I have a tiny idea of what it’s like to be in your position.

    My email is

    Thanks so much!

    Jonathan Frieman
    80 Bay Way
    San Rafael, CA 94901
    h: 415-721-7397
    c: 415-845-1371
    FB page: Occupy the Carpool Lane

  12. Oscar Criado-del-Rey says:

    Dear Alexander.
    My name is Oscar Criado-de-Rey and I am impressed by your acomplishment of becoming an Englishman-bull fighter. I came accross your profile via the ABC newspaper this summer. I lived 9 years in the UK and when I was coming back to Spain some times. having been a bull-fighting lover, I saw the whole thing from the distance and it didn´t make sense (I say some times…). Back in the country now for some years I again believe this is something to be proud of.
    I have rune bulls since I was a kid…until 6 of them run all over me and had to be in the hospital for a week with a memory loss and all…(run in the wrong place at the wrong time though).
    My family comes from Cuellar. And of course we are proud to say this the oldest and most authentic bull run festival in Spain. And we love it when someone like you comes around and enjoys the party!

    I appologise now because the reason for my letter together with showing you my admiration for your work, is to introduce you to a place in Cuellar that could be of interest for you or any wealthy friend.
    My family ownes a Convent Church converted into a summer house. It is a XVI century building with paintings on the ceiling and a huge garden. It has known better times. It is now on sale as the family can not maintain it. You can see it on (in Spanish).

    It truly is a unique place. As I own a premium travel operator ( we have also tried to convert it into a boutique hotel (there is non in town or in 25 km and it is very well located for wine tourism being closed to Ribera de Duero y Rueda) but as you know Spain is at the moment in a diffcult time for investors and financing…

    That´s all Alexander. I hope you don´t mind my approaching you with this opportunity but again, since I saw the article this summer I did want to get in contact and congratulate you.

    And if you thinkg this property could be of interest for anybody you know…please do let me know!

    Cuellaranos, A POR ELLOS!


  13. Patrick Compton says:

    Dear Alexander,

    I’m a bullfighting enthusiast, but I’m not an expert.

    Hemingway argues, as you know, that the “primal root” of the Spanish bullfight is the “toro bravo”. Having been to Spain last summer and seen two novilladas in Madrid and the season-ending three-day feria of San Miguel in Sevilla, I have to agree, but from a negative point of view.

    Of the 33 fights I saw (three bulls were so bad that they were ushered out by steers), possibly three or four bulls were what I would call adequate. I saw no bulls that Hemingway would have called truly “noble”. The majority seemed unfit, were reluctant to charge and were so defensive minded that they proved extremely dangerous opponents for the frustrated matadors. (I would like to add that the picadors didn’t over-pic them). During my entire visit, one matador cut an ear – and even that decision by the president was arguable. Music was played in only three bullfights.

    One aspect of my lack of expertise is that I can’t yet judge how a good matador can “make” an otherwise indifferent bull, so it’s possible that poor bulls remained that way because they weren’t fought well enough by the matador.

    Notwithstanding that, my question to you is this: In your otherwise excellent book, shouldn’t you have focused more on the crisis regarding the breeding of big, strong, brave bulls. Or was I simply unlucky?

  14. We are a niche publisher of English-language books on/about Mexico. Our latest is “Brave Blood: the bullfight in México — the words, the experience”, by Richard Finks Whitaker. Prof. Finks (like many naturalized Mexicans, he uses both apellidos) is a U.S. born, British educated academic, head of the graduate translation program at the Universidad Autónima de Guadalajara, and a thirty-plus year student of the arena. His book is more an “encyclopedia/guide” than a personal meditation (like your own, very fine “Into the Arena”)… but a book probably essential if we are to have the terms to speak of what is at once a sport, an art form, and a ritual — a mystery play of life and death.

    As a very tiny publishing house, and publishing a “niche” publication like Brave Blood, we can’t afford to print reviewer copies, but I would like to send you a copy of the “pdf-format” proof. While I realize you can’t make any commitments to review the book, we would, of course, be grateful for any mention you might give “Brave Blood” in either the sporting or general press.

    Richard Grabman
    Gestor de proyectos
    Editorial Wisemaz S. de R.L. de C.V.
    Mazatlán, Sinaloa, México

    ( or

  15. Thank you for writing the excerpt from Mitchener’s IBERIA about my late father Orson Welles.
    I grew up with him taking me to every possible bullfight imaginable, from novilladasain some remote little town to Las Ventas, La Maestranza and so many more where I learned the “art” he talks so eloquently about. He was the best teacher on the subject a daughter could ever dream of. I miss him…

  16. Joshua Abbott says:

    Dear Fiske, I saw my first bullfight in Madrid today. Despite three poorly performing matadors and some very unclean kills, I found the spectacle to be very enjoyable. I think it was the risk involved for those in the ring. I have a question I would like to be answered in a truthful manner; do they torture the bulls beforehand? I’ve heard all kinds of terrible stories in regard to this. If the bulls aggression was somehow provoke and artificial then I’m not sure I could see another as I would deem that to be quite cruel. Josh

  17. The usual accusation – which is false, as you saw – is that the bull is injured and/or drugged to REDUCE its aggression and strength in the ring prior to entry, not increase it. Either way it is false, you need an untouched bull when it enters the ring. It is illegal to alter it, and a vet inspects it. Any damage to the bull prior to entry leads to the bull being replaced at the demand of the crowd. AFH

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