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Original Issue

Pamplona: Revelry and a Run with the Bulls

At the Feria de San Fermin a visitor can lose a week's sleep and, if he wishes, he can risk losing his life

In 1926 a young writer named Ernest Hemingway exploded on the literary scene with a novel called The Sun Also Rises, in which he said of the fair in Pamplona, Spain: "At noon of Sunday, the 6th of July, the fiesta exploded.... It kept up day and night for seven days. The dancing kept up, the drinking kept up, the noise went on. The things that happened could only have happened during a fiesta. Everything became quite unreal finally and it seemed as though nothing could have any consequences. It seemed out of place to think of consequences during the fiesta. All during the fiesta you had the feeling, even when it was quiet, that you had to shout any remark to make it heard. It was the same feeling about any action. It was a fiesta and it went on for seven days."

As everyone knows, Hemingway has been exploding ever since. So has the Feria de San Fermin. This year, as always, the top matadors of Spain will be on hand to display their skills each afternoon in the bull ring. But the bullfight proper is only a small part of the fiesta. Pamplona's fame rests largely on the encierro, the strange morning ceremony in which the day's fighting bulls stampede through the streets in pursuit of a howling horde of youths who obviously believe that nothing has consequences. One consequence of a stumble, as they occasionally discover, can be disaster on the horns. Between these daily "runnings" the streets swarm with marchers, fifers, dancers and less formal revelers, caught up in what has been called the "joyful insanity" of a fair that has no rivals in the Spanish—or maybe this—world.

The endless parades of the Feria, with their whirling dancers and uniformed marchers, are interrupted by only one event—the running of the bulls (next page)

Running of the bulls opens festivities each day with animals chasing reckless youths through barricaded streets to the bull ring

End of the chase comes as the runners and their pursuers burst into the arena