The Dangerous Summer Essay - Critical Essays

The Dangerous Summer

In 1959, Ernest Hemingway traveled to Spain to do a long article for LIFE magazine on the summer bullfighting season. Featured in a series of fights during that summer were two of Spain’s greatest matadors, Antonio Ordonez and Luis Miguel Dominguin. Hemingway was friends with both, and during the season he traveled with the Ordonez party much of the time. His firsthand account of dozens of bullfights includes not only descriptions of the events in the arena but also behind-the-scenes insights into the lives of these two matadors and many more besides. Throughout the book, the reader is treated to graphic, almost cold-blooded narratives of men facing death at the horns of bulls specially bred for the ring, alternating with warm, sensuous accounts of the towns and countryside of one of the most beautiful countries in Europe. Throughout, Hemingway focuses on the qualities that make a man brave, and the traits that mark the exceptional hero among the many who try to snatch glory in this, one of the few sports where men face the possibility of death at every encounter.

A special bonus in this book is the long introduction by James Michener. Himself a fan of bullfighting, Michener provides another perspective on Hemingway’s “dangerous summer” by relating important background on the genesis of this book. He also explains his own relationship to Hemingway and includes a short glossary of bullfighting terms.