Hemingway and Pamplona
Yamaguchi Prefecture formed a sister region relationship with the province of Navarre, Spain in November of 2003. Since then, relations between the two areas have seen a great deal of international cultural exchange and courtesy visits. The capital city of Pamplona is most famous for its summer festival known as the Fiesta of San Fermin where participants run in front of bulls through the streets of the city. However, were it not for American novelist Ernest Hemingway, who introduced the English speaking world to San Fermin through its inclusion in some of his most famous works, news of this local festivity may have never made it out of Southern Spain.
Ernest Hemingway first visited Pamplona in 1923 during the Fiesta of San Fermin and was deeply impressed by the spectacle. The festival was used as a backdrop in his novel, The Sun Also Rises. He became an avid fan of bull fighting, and although he never participated in the run, he took part in amateur bull fighting competitions and even seriously considered the profession. However, he decided that writing was his true calling, but continued to follow the sport with just as much passion, making a total of nine visits to Pamplona to see the festival. He even witnessed the first recorded death of a runner in 1924. His last visit was in 1959, and after his death, two tickets to the upcoming bullfight in Pamplona were found in his desk.
His work, Death in the Afternoon is a guide to the sport of bullfighting and became indispensable reading on the sport. Next to the bullfighting ring in Pamplona City, there is a dedication to Hemingway in honor of his love of the sport, the city and the festival which he helped to catapult into the world’s consciousness. Unveiled in 1968, the base of the monument reads, “To Ernest Hemingway, Nobel Laureate in Literature, friend of this city and admirer of its fiestas, which he discovered and brought fame”