Books - Flamenco & Toros

Many first impressions of Spain, especially from afar, are of flamenco and bullfighting. Flamenco is often misunderstood depending on a person's point of view. Some first think of the guitar, others singing, and yet others the form of dance. Flamenco is all of these in their separate forms as well as an entire experience together. There is also the history and lyrical, albeit poetic, style behind flamenco which many may fail to keep in mind when watching a performance in the present day. The titles listed below will help you grasp the traditions and better understand the modern.

The bullfight, or corrida, is a hotly debated topic both within and outside of Spain. One cannot post a question about bullfighting in a travel forum without the scorn of animal rights activists. I have attended a few, and I'm not a rabid aficionado nor a protestor - I sit happily on the fence. A bullfight is an exciting event to see and if you want to see it I say go buy a ticket! If you think the event is cruel and horrible than I say stay away, but don't look for me to make a decision or opinion on it here.

I am always looking for new books so if you've read something good please email me your recommendations.

Topics in this section


cover Duende: A Journey Into the Heart of Flamenco
A travel memoir following several years of the life of Jason Webster, an Englishman with plenty of travel experience, who sets out to learn the passion of flamenco in Spain. Starting in Alicante and following to Madrid, Webster gives an account of his search for the meaning of duende, "an untranslatable term referring to the feeling that is the essence of flamenco" (Publsihers Weekly). A foreigner's perspective on a distinctly Spanish tradition.


Gypsy Cante: Deep Song of the Caves

Sections of lyrics in both Spanish and English are reviewed by well-known Flamenco aficionados. Consider this more a book of poetry which looks delves deeper into the tradition of cante jondo.



cover In Search of Duende (New Directions Bibelot Series)
Hard to think of Andalusian writers without thinking of Lorca. Born in 1898 during the Spanish-American War and executed during the Spanish Civil War in 1936, Lorca still left us with plenty to read in a short time. His unique view of Andalusian culture and folklore make him a perfect author for exploring the theme of duende. His understanding of the passion of flamenco translates beyond the genre and proves a must read for any musician or aficionado of flamenco.


cover Pamplona: Running the Bulls, Bars and Barrios in Fiesta de San Fermin
One of the most accurate books about Pamplona and the running of the bulls, both in it's historical and contemporary accounts. From the history to the practical you will get a great feel for the eight day event and understand what's going on behind the scenes. More than 130 photographs will help you see it as well as feel it, at least the best you can until you go. I'm not one that feels the pull of this fiesta, the ungodly crowds and risking my life without understanding the unwritten rules, but the book does a great giving insight into how it works and what to expect.


cover Bulls, Bullfighting, and Spanish Identities
A Spanish tradition that some love or hate, both inside and outside of Spain. This book shows that everything which has to do with the corrida is not only about "differences in region, class, and politics in Spain but also about that country's ongoing struggle between modernity and tradition." A look further outside of Spain covers how this tradition identifies Spain compared to other European nations as it pushes forward with a modern society and identity.


cover On Bullfighting
In the middle of depression a female journalist takes on an assignment about bullfighting, of which she knows little. What comes of the book is different perspectives than you generally get in these works, both from the eyes of a woman and a casual observer who has done some research. A look at some of the more basic, philosophical questions behind the bullfight makes a good read for those starting to learn about the tradition.


Bullfighting: Art, Technique, and Spanish Society

Written from the point of view of the torero rather than the spectator, the author goes behind the scenes with the help of some retired bullfighters. Understand the training, the mentality and the spectacle from perspective of the man in the ring. Covers such famous figures as Manolete, Joselito, Belmonte, and Ordez.


cover Ritual and Sacrifice in the Corrida: The Saga of Cesar Rincon
Follow four years in the career of one of the recent heroes in matador world, Cesar Rincon. In 1991, Rincon burst onto the scene with a "purity of style that became his trademark". The author senses Rincon's ability and style as something that was missing from the corrida for a long time. From his near death experience in the ring to a series of triumphant performances in Madrid, the book is a good read for those with interest.


cover The Dangerous Summer
Hemingway covered the 1959 bullfighting season as a piece for Life magazine which ended up being his last work before his death at the age of 60. His goal was to cover the places and events which inspired his novel Death in the Afternoon. The work concentrates on two rival matadors during the season while Hemingway's friendship one of them provides an interesting perspective. Aside from it being Hemingway and Spain, the book offers a wonderful portrait of bullfighting and Spain in the Franco era.


cover Death in the Afternoon
The corrida, or bullfight, through the eyes of Hemingway is something special. Covering the details thoroughly from the matador to the bull a wonderful picture and lesson on what the corrida really is: part sport, part art and of course ritual and pageantry. Hemingway's colorful descriptions of the matadors, placing them in categories which range from coward to glory seeker to hero, are something to remember.





Enter search term(s)   
powered by FreeFind

Enter your email to receive updates:

privacy policy


Editor: Jeff Spielvogel
© 2003-10 All Rights Reserved