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Henry de Montherlant: Les Bestiaires (The Bullfighters, later: The Matador)

There’s not much to say about this book. If you think killing animals for sport is a good thing, you might enjoy this novel. If you don’t, you will find it fairly repugnant. Montherlant was enamoured of bullfighting and went to Spain to watch it and practice it (he was seriously injured) but, like Hemingway considered it a way for a man to prove himself a man. In this story we see Alban de Bricoule a few years before we meet him in Montherlant’s previous book, Le Songe (The Dream). He adores bullfighting, heads off to Spain (where he finds the locals far less enthusiastic than he), watches bullfighting, does a bit of it himself, admires the brave bullfighters (including the obligatory amateur bullfighter who rushes in from the crowd), falls in love with a Spanish woman and so on. Maybe it proves a man is a man. But then, maybe, it doesn’t.

Publishing history

First published in French 1926 by Larousse
First English translation in 1928 by Jonathan Cape