Hemingway and Howard are alike? Didn’t one write about traumatized and/or impotent war veterans named Nick and Jake, and the other about unstoppable, larger-than-life heroes from impossibly ancient times with names like Conan and Kull? I’ll admit that if the only Hemingway you’ve read is The Garden of Eden or A Moveable Feast, you’ll find little in common with these tales and Howard’s Hour of the Dragon or “The Vale of Lost Women.” But Death in the Afternoon is a very different animal than Hemingway’s softer stories. It’s a raw, unflinching look at a sport many consider barbaric and cruel, but which Hemingway admired very deeply. And then it struck me: What is Death in the Afternoon if not heroic fantasy? What are the Spanish bullfighters of Hemingway’s work if not modern-day gladiators, heroes with swords? Wealth, fame, and great heights are theirs for the taking, but are entirely dependent on their bravery, grace, and skill with cape and sword.
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