equivocally means a tree-martin. I oftennwatch the seemingly weightless boundingnof the faina from my bedroom window,nbut I would not like my heart to bentrampled by a doe! Milo de Angelis’s “ilnriso in bianco” (which as every Italiannchild knows means plain “boiled rice”)nbecomes Lawrence Venuti’s “laughter innwhite.” I wonder how this translatornwould render Dante’s “// dolce riso dellanmia donna”? “My Lady’s sweet risotto,”nperhaps? There are other dubious interpretationsnof the Italian, and the reader,nunlike the translator in this case, shouldnarm himself with a large dictionary.nAs for the quality of the individualnpoets and their poems, to make briefnjudgments on them in a short reviewnwould be quite unfair and misleading.nReaders may well judge them more favorablynthan I do.nPeter Russell is an English poet livingnin Italy and author of Teorie e AltrenLiriche.nOf Men and Beastsnby Gregory McNameenThe Last Serious Thing: A Season atnthe Bullfightsnby Bruce SchoenfeldnNew York: Simon & Schuster;n238 pp., $22.00nThe old man has done a bit of everythingnthat a journalist can do.nHe has been an opera critic, a war correspondent,na sportswriter. He pridesnhimself most on the years he spent coveringnthe bullfights of his native Sevilla.nFor some time now he has been mumblingnto his American visitor, BrucenSchoenfeld, who recalls the old mann”speaking Spanish with such a harsh andnpeculiar accent that I can’t understandna word.” He remains incomprehensiblenThe Battle on the Right: $1nuntil he stands before a group of fellownenthusiasts of the ancient sport of tauromachy.nThen, in a voice as clear asnday, he declares, “There have been toonmany words written about bullfightingnalready. . . . The last thing we aficionadosnneed is another [book].”nThat may be true in Spain, where thenshelves brim with titles on the corrida.nBut because the sport is not practiced innthe United States, American writersnhave spent a little ink writing about bullfighting,nand there is plenty of room fornnew books on the subject. At the apexnof our small literature stands ErnestnHemingway’s Death in the Afternoon,nan indispensable consideration of thenmatador’s art; then there yawns a greatngap between it and a mound of lessernworks, including the same writer’snDangerous Summer and the worshipfulnOr I’ll Dress You in Mourning, by thenteam of Larry Collins and DominiquenLaPierre. Bruce Schoenfeld’s The LastnSerious Thing occupies that hithertonempty middle ground.nSchoenfeld writes without pretense,nfully aware that he will not equal Hemingway’sngreat treatise. Instead, he givesnus plain-vanilla reportage on the peopleninvolved in bullfighting, from spectatorsnto breeders to picadors. Unlike Hemingway,nhe seems to take little interest inntechnique; on the face of it, Schoenfeldnwouldn’t know a paso doble from anveronica, although he surely does. Whatnhe has is a keen eye for everyday detail,nand his book is as much about post-nFranco Spain as it is about the ritualisticndispatch of infuriated beef.nSchoenfeld recounts a year’s sojournnin Sevilla, “the city of the bull.” (It is alsona city where, as- any visitor will remember,nno local ever seems to work ornsleep, where the resaca, the hangover, isna paid holiday. Rio de Janeiro seemsndour by comparison.) In the ancientncity Schoenfeld finds no end of memorablencharacters with which to populatenhis book. Among them are Juan AntonionRuiz, “the only true maxima figuranMurray Rothbard’s demolition of Norman Podhoretz and Richard JohnnNeuhaus is the hottest document on the Right since Joe McCarthy’s list. Forna sizzling copy, send $1 to The Rothbard-Rockwell Report, RO. Box 409LnBurlingame, Cal. 94011. Bonus: Rothbard’s historic John Randolph Clubnpresidential address, which Bill Buckley denounced and Pat Buchanannloved.n38/CHRONICLESnnncurrently active in bullfighting today,”nwho goes by the nickname Espartaeo, ornSpartacus; a slew of British and Americannexpatriates, who have collectively developednan encyclopedic knowledge ofntauromachy past and present, to thenconsternation of turf-guarding Spaniards;nand a retired banderillero called Navarrito,ngiven even under the sternest yearsnof Fascist rule to proclaiming his communistnbeliefs to the nearest policeman.nTheir stories, skillfully woven into thennarrative, give real life to Schoenfeld’snbook.nSchoenfeld is equally good on whatnmight be called the politics of bullfighting.nHe notes that in Spain, democraticnonly since 1975, many identify thensport with the bloody pomp of the Franconregime and so shun it; only when anfew leading officials of the Socialist Partynbegan showing up at ringside in thenmid-1980’s did the sport regain somethingnof its former popularity. Like theirngrandparents, Spanish teenagers now accordnmatadors the same adulation asnthey do movie stars, pop musicians, andnsoccer pros, a nice bit of cultural continuity.nSchoenfeld also notes the classconditionednaspects of the corrida,nwhere the poor entertain the rich, wheren”for every El Cordobes who gains financialnsecurity there are tens of thousandsnof aspirants who never see the insidenof a bullring.”nAnimal-rights activists, who are presumablynpolitically correct enough to allownfor multicultural relativity, have longndecried bullfighting, one of the planet’snoldest sports. Schoenfeld seems to benneutral on the subject; he admits to neitherna queasiness at the sight of spillednblood nor a sub-rosa thrill at the spectaclenof sequined suits and flashingnswords. Indeed, throughout the narrativenhe is curiously detached, and onlynthe characters who wander in and out ofnhis pages give them any sparkle. He reservesnthe final paragraph of his yeomanlikenstudy to reveal any passion fornthe essence of the sport: “A human psychenlaid bare, and the courage you need,nin a plaza filled with thousands of people,nto stand alone with yourself and thentruest reality of all, the ubiquitous presencenof death.” Would that the rest ofnThe Last Serious Thing had attainednsuch poetry.nFreelance writer Gregory McNameenadmits in certain company to enjoyingna good bullfight.n