Unsigned manuscript outline for ‘Death in the Afternoon,’ written in pencil by Hemingway on an off-white 2.75 x 5.25 sheet, no date but circa 1925. The brief outline is headed “D in A,” and reads, in full: “Two boys—same town—same age—play bull in streets—one killed—Sargossa incident—one becomes Matador—other Revolutionist—girl, careers—Matador takes girl—cowards / ring / final bury of.”
Included is an ALS from friend and fellow novelist John Dos Passos, signed “Dos,” one page, 7.75 x 11, no date but circa 1932. In part: “Hem—just finished Death in the Afternoon, rereading it slowly (and th[anks] for sending it)—don’t let anybody say it isn’t a magnificent classic p[iece] of work—at least dont believe ‘em if [they] say it. If there are any periodicals [you] want scorched with yours etc [or] letters send me the review and [I’ll] open up with what artillery I can get. You can even have your old lady…Five or six old ladies wouldn’t hur[t]…When I’d finished the last chapter [I had] to look at the photographs—which [are] damn fine photographs—and what I’d [be] reading made ‘em look like a lot of su--. Never saw a photograph look so fine [in] my life. Makes me feel better about the profession of woodfellows.” A postscript reads: “Thought I’[d] better send this century—Haven’t the…”
Also included is an early carbon typescript of the first page of Hemingway’s draft for Death in the Afternoon, 8.5 x 12, in part: “At the first bullfight I ever went to I expected to be horrified and perhaps sickened by what I had been told would happen to the horses. Everything I had read about the bull ring insisted on that point; most people who wrote of it condemned bullfighting outright as a stupid brutal business but even those that spoke well of it as an exhibition of skill and as a spectacle deplored the use of the horses and were apologetic about the whole thing. The killing of the horses in the ring was considered indefensible. I suppose, from a modern moral point of view, that is, a Christian point of view, the whole bullfight is indefensible; there is certainly much cruelty, there is always danger, either sought or unlooked for, and there is always death and I should not try to defend it now, only to tell honestly the things I have found true about it.” In overall very good condition, with creasing to the Hemingway outline; toning, foxing, and paper loss to the draft page; and paper loss to the Dos Passos letter, affecting some of its text.
After witnessing his first bullfight at the Festival of San Fermin in Pamplona, Spain in 1923, Hemingway recounted his experience in an article for the Toronto Star Weekly entitled ‘Bullfighting Is Not a Sport—It is a Tragedy.’ That article, and Hemingway’s subsequent return trips to the festival, served as the inspiration for his now classic 1926 novel The Sun Also Rises, as well as the nonfiction guidebook Death in the Afternoon. Published by Scribner’s in 1932, the work examines the history of bullfighting, the cowardice and bravery of its participants, and the tragic and aesthetic elements that Hemingway posited made bullfighting ‘a decadent art in every way.’ A terrific handwritten manuscript relating to a contest Hemingway both popularized and romanticized throughout his career. According to the writer: ‘There are only three sports: bullfighting, motor racing, and mountaineering; all the rest are merely games.’
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