Bullfighting is seen by many as cruel. But it is not merely a gaudy circus spectacle; at its best it is an art form. Can aesthetics justify the suffering of the animal?by Alexander Fiske-Harrison / September 28, 2008 / Leave a comment
Published in September 2008 issue of Prospect Magazine
“The slow, sad fury of a perfect bullfight”: the matador El Cid faces the bull Borgoñés in Seville’s Plaza del Toros
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The following events occurred on 19th April 2007, the second day of the Feria de Abril in Seville, in the Plaza de Toros de la Real Maestranza de Caballeria
The bull enters the ring at a trot, a fanfare of trumpets fading in the background. He seems tentative, his eyes sweeping the ring.
His breeders have named him Borgoñés. He arrived in town the night before from the pastures of Victorino Martin’s estate in west-central Spain, 50 miles from the Portuguese border. Here, on this mix of pasture, scrub and woodland, Borgoñés learnt how to use his horns on other bulls and built his 86.5 stone bulk of muscle and bone. Now that he is alone for the first time in his life, the restraints on his more ferocious instincts have been removed.
Standing at the far edges of the circular ring, some 60 yards from the bull, are three banderilleros: companions and employees of the matador in lesser versions of his “suit of lights,” each with a large working cape in his hands, pink on one side, yellow on the other. They flap their capes from the safety of wooden hides in the barrier of the ring until Borgoñés charges across the ring, selecting his target. The bull does not stop until he hits the wall of the wooden hide, the man safely behind as Borgoñés jabs again and again at the wood, splinters flying. Borgoñés has shown that he is quick to take the lure, that he charges straight, without hesitation or pawing the ground, and that he favours his right horn.
The matador w…