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‘Bullfighting, motor racing and mountaineering’ (split)


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#1 DCapps

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Posted 31 August 2019 - 19:39

Per the BBC:

Not for nothing did Hemingway say: "There are only three sports: bullfighting, motor racing, and mountaineering; all the rest are merely games."

This quotation has nothing to do with Hemingway, it is actually from a short story written by Ken Purdy in the Fifties. I think we settled this quite some time ago, but as in the case of more than a few things related to motor racing that are erroneous, it persists...

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#2 Ray Bell

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Posted 02 September 2019 - 00:38

Purdy also restated it in All But My Life... or at least part of it...

But I feel sure he said in that that he had quoted it from elsewhere.

#3 DCapps

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Posted 02 September 2019 - 01:00

Purdy also restated it in All But My Life... or at least part of it...

But I feel sure he said in that that he had quoted it from elsewhere.

 

There are three sports—bullfighting, mountain climbing, and motor racing. All the rest are recreations.  -attributed to Ernest Hemingway

With its swaggering machismo, this familiar quotation sure sounds like classic Hemingway. But in truth, the phrase was created by automotive writer Ken Purdy for a piece of short racing fiction called “Blood Sport” that first appeared in The Saturday Evening Post on July 27, 1957. (The story also appears in a collection of his works, Ken Purdy’s Book of Automobiles.) The sentence is uttered by one of the story’s characters, a race driver named Helmut Ovden.

 

 

"Auto racing, bullfighting, and mountain climbing are the only real sports—all others are games” has been credited to the author Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961) since the 1980s, but there’s no evidence that he ever wrote it. The inclusion of “bullfighting” probably brought to mind Hemingway’s book about the sport, Death in the Afternoon (1932).

The automotive writer and editor Ken Purdy (1913-1972) wrote about “mountain climbing, bullfighting and automobile racing” in a 1957 issue of The Atlantic and further explained in a 1960 book:

“I have a quotation in a story, a piece of fiction that won’t be published until next summer,” I told Portago, “something that I think you might have said: that of all sports, only bullfighting and mountain climbing and motor racing really try a man, that all the rest are mere recreations, games that children can play. Would you have said that?”

“I couldn’t agree with you more,” Portago said.


Purdy was discussing the quotation with driver Alfonso De Portago (1928-1957). A 1976 book called this “Marquis de Portago’s dictum,” but Portago was being told the line by Purdy. The “piece of fiction” is Purdy’s “Blood Sport,” from the July 27, 1957 Saturday Evening Post:

“There are three sports that try a man,” she remembered Helmut Ovden saying, “bullfighting, motor racing, mountain climbing. All the rest are recreations.”

The American writer Barnaby Conrad is sometimes credited with the quote, but there’s no documentary evidence to support this.

 

 

Here is another take on Hemingway and the quote from a review in Veloce Today from 2004: (http://www.velocetod...ifestyle_46.php)



#4 Michael Ferner

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Posted 02 September 2019 - 10:00

It doesn't improve the quip one bit, knowing it wasn't uttered by Hemingway...

#5 eibyyz

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Posted 03 September 2019 - 14:13

Here is another take on Hemingway and the quote from a review in Veloce Today from 2004: (http://www.velocetod...ifestyle_46.php)

 

Conrad was a huge bullfight aficionado, probably the best American writer on the subject after Hemingway died.  

Strange, but everywhere outside of Iberia considers bullfighing a sport, where it's more accurately art, like that makes it any more acceptable.



#6 Jim Thurman

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Posted 03 September 2019 - 16:03

Per the BBC:

 

More importantly, did you contact the BBC with the pertinent info attributing the quote to Purdy? (to me, the quote always sounded far more Purdy than Hemingway).

 

I've managed to get two motorsport related errors made by the New York Times corrected. Both were in the same article. 



#7 Tim Murray

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Posted 03 September 2019 - 16:20

This thread has been split from the ‘Speed’s ultimate price: the toll...’ thread.

#8 lustigson

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Posted 04 September 2019 - 12:46

Purdy-who?

 

Whenever I use the quote — which isn't all that often, to be honest :drunk: — I state that it is falsely attributed to Ernest Hemingway, just to be able to use his name in the conversation.



#9 john winfield

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Posted 04 September 2019 - 14:00

Is this the Ken Purdy who had an entertaining squabble with Bill Boddy in the letters pages of Motor Sport? Or was that Ernest Hemingway?. 



#10 johnwilliamdavies

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Posted 04 September 2019 - 14:41

Per the BBC:

 

It was Andrew Benson. Name the wrongdoer. 



#11 SJ Lambert

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Posted 16 November 2022 - 02:38

Beautiful footage from Aaron Annesley of his climb of my favourite mountain in the Land of the Long White Cloud as he tops out on Mt Aspiring


https://youtu.be/7XH7HOGREik

#12 E1pix

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Posted 16 November 2022 - 03:13

Atta boy James, how sweet is that?

Thanks for posting it.

#13 BRG

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Posted 16 November 2022 - 10:20

Whoever said it is immaterial.  We know a few have climbed mountains but the real question is whether any leading racing drivers have tried bull-fighting?  



#14 RobertE

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Posted 16 November 2022 - 10:30

Something tells me that de Portago might at least have tried it!

 

Purdy was, according to a driver of that era, a 'depressing little man, obsessed with death; always lurking near the grid.

 

He took the Hemingway exit in 1972.



#15 B Squared

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Posted 16 November 2022 - 10:37



Whoever said it is immaterial.  We know a few have climbed mountains but the real question is whether any leading racing drivers have tried bull-fighting?  

JC, Mexico; 1967

DM9k-Ztl-Vo-AA27-Iv.jpg



#16 Tim Murray

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Posted 16 November 2022 - 10:39

... and again:

C58561-E8-4266-4124-BB13-A3319-C13-CDD9.

#17 PayasYouRace

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Posted 16 November 2022 - 13:01

Given Mexico City’s altitude I’ll grant him all three.

#18 BRG

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Posted 16 November 2022 - 16:16

Bloody hell!  Can you imagine the internet meltdown if Lewis Hamilton or Fernando Alonso were to do that today!



#19 RS2000

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Posted 16 November 2022 - 16:26

Bull fighting or calf fighting??

 

(I've wrestled bigger cows than that as a volunteer worker for the local Council in the neighbouring Country Park!)



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#20 10kDA

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Posted 16 November 2022 - 16:34

OK we have had the "Johnny Cash in a bush eating a cake while stoned" meme, and the "Roy Orbison on a go cart" meme, but "You May Be Cool - But you'll never be Jim Clark wearing a helmet, chaps and a necktie fighting a bull cool" could possibly break the interweb.



#21 10kDA

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Posted 16 November 2022 - 16:37

Bloody hell!  Can you imagine the internet meltdown if Lewis Hamilton or Fernando Alonso were to do that today!

Is anybody entirely sure what Alonso's offseason looks like?



#22 E1pix

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Posted 16 November 2022 - 18:21

JC, Mexico; 1967
DM9k-Ztl-Vo-AA27-Iv.jpg

How positively gauche to fight bulls with neither goggles nor ice axe.

#23 Bloggsworth

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Posted 16 November 2022 - 19:33

Churchill, Shakespeare and Oscar Wilde usually get the blame for a lot of quotations.


Edited by Bloggsworth, 16 November 2022 - 19:33.


#24 Ray Bell

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Posted 16 November 2022 - 22:29

Not to mention Solomon...

 

And, to a lesser degree, Daniel with one of the most famous of all.



#25 Tim Murray

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Posted 16 November 2022 - 22:49

When I was a pub quiz team regular, if we were given a quotation we didn’t recognise we always put Mark Twain down for it. It was amazing how often we got it right.

#26 Charlieman

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Posted 16 November 2022 - 23:01

For the benefit of non-British readers: We are not all as daft as Tim and his mates.



#27 E1pix

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Posted 16 November 2022 - 23:34

Nobody is!!!

#28 10kDA

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Posted 16 November 2022 - 23:37

Way to play the odds for the win, Tim!!!



#29 LOTI

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Posted 17 November 2022 - 11:13

I was there.

Tim Parnell got in to the ring and picked the poor little calf up off its feet.



#30 Jim Thurman

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Posted 17 November 2022 - 17:00

I'm pleased Tim mentioned Mark Twain, who has a tremendous number of quotes attributed to him he never said.

 

Or, as Yogi Berra was alleged to have remarked (about quotes attributed to him): "I never said half the things I said."



#31 Jim Thurman

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Posted 17 November 2022 - 17:04

It's definitely not immaterial who said it. Especially when it's so easily proven/disproven.

Purdy was, according to a driver of that era, a 'depressing little man, obsessed with death; always lurking near the grid.

 

He took the Hemingway exit in 1972.

Purdy was another of what I call "blood & gutsers", a group of American writers obsessed with the death and carnage aspect of motorsports (Daley; Sawyer; Yates, at least in his latter years).

 

I've long felt passages of some of their work should have been entered in the annual "Bad Hemingway" contest.



#32 DCapps

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Posted 17 November 2022 - 17:44

Whoever said it is immaterial. 

 

As Jim suggests, it is material since no end of Hemingway scholars have long tired of refuting that Papa said it.



#33 Roger Clark

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Posted 18 November 2022 - 17:40

Rereading this thread, I decided to search the Motor Sport archive for mentions of Ken Purdy. I came across a series of Letters to the Editor in early 1963 concerning the relative merits of British and American cars, not to mention the character of the natives of the two countries, full of splendid chauvanism and bigotry.  Purdy had observed two young men trying unsuccessfully to push start a Rover 90 on an icy London street.   He offered to help but was told: "I'm sure you are very kind, but since the car has a proper clutch and a proper gearbox, and is not running 300 horsepower through. a slushpump. perhaps it would be better if we managed it ourselves".  

 

There were follow up letters for several months afterwards, including one from a John S Hogan of London SW13.  I don't know whether this was the John Hogan who was so central to Marlboro's involvement in motor racing.

 

While searching I came across an unrelated letter from schoolboys D Beard and P Bryan of Chilton.   I think this must be our much-missed friend David.  Their letter concerned a survey they had carried out from their school of Ford Cortina's and Morris/MG 1100s, Bothe recently introduced.  Cortina's won 47:26, despite the school being close to Morris Motors, Cowley.

 

Letters to the Editor was the third great contributor to Motor Sport, after DSJ and WB.



#34 Sterzo

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Posted 18 November 2022 - 22:04

Boddy was famously derogatory about what he saw as Purdy's sensationalist style, to the extent that Purdy wrote a threatening letter. Boddy responded (as I recall) in typical Boddy fashion, by telling us all of the letter and promising never to mention Purdy again, "not even in an obituary".



#35 DCapps

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Posted 19 November 2022 - 00:58

I recently found a copy in my files of the story that Purdy wrote in the September 1962 issue of Playboy: "Stirling Moss: A Nodding Acquaintance with Death."

 

I then skimmed the various other works that I have by Purdy lurking on the bookshelves.

 

That little to none of it has aged well would the kindest remark that I might muster.

 

Give Boddy full points and extra credit, he nailed it regarding Purdy.

 

HDC



#36 Doug Nye

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Posted 19 November 2022 - 09:11

Ken Purdy was described to me as a dark, earnest, self-admiring kind of American journalist, who apparently regarded himself very much as being some kind of literary figure, far beyond merely scribbling (in many ways pretty well, to be honest) about oily, smelly, often brutal old cars and the men (and women) who competed in them.  I never met him so cannot contribute a personal assessment. Perhaps the manner of his eventual demise adds weight to the description I heard.

 

DCN

 

PS - 'The Bod' (as assessed by Don above) could himself be, well, odd...but he was indeed a pretty good judge of character.


Edited by Doug Nye, 19 November 2022 - 09:12.


#37 Jack-the-Lad

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Posted 21 November 2022 - 15:45

For better or worse, as an American “tweener” during Purdy’s writing heyday, he formed much  of my early understanding of motor racing.  I think judging his work should be taken in the context of the era, as it should be for all art (I consider writing to be an art). And it was a pretty bloody time.     In retrospect it seems he was writing largely for a general audience…the magazines, in particular…rather than for informed enthusiasts. He did write a good bit  about automobiles aside from motorsports.  I recall reading “Kings of the Road” several times.  I can’t comment on his personality but I wonder about the reason for his suicide…depression, financial setbacks, terminal illness, etc? 



#38 Jim Thurman

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Posted 21 November 2022 - 17:31

 I can’t comment on his personality but I wonder about the reason for his suicide…depression, financial setbacks, terminal illness, etc? 

Hemingway worship?



#39 RobertE

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Posted 21 November 2022 - 18:32

Hemingway worship?

 

Hemingway did say that 'All good stories end in death', which is perhaps a clue. Some of Purdy's stuff was v. readable and even informative, but his short stories were dreadful. Hemingway, of course, was a master of the short story, although not q. up to Kipling. But then, not many are...



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#40 Jim Thurman

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Posted 22 November 2022 - 17:59

After I made a snarky reply, a bit more thought here...

 

As Doug mentions, even amongst these wanna be Hemingways, there was quite a range of writing ability displayed. Despite sharing Mr. Boddy's disdain of the blood-soaked sensationalism, some of them could be capable writers. In our view, and reality, if only they'd have chosen other subjects, varied it a bit or gone the true fiction route (not that it isn't already essentially that).

 

For better or worse, as an American “tweener” during Purdy’s writing heyday, he formed much  of my early understanding of motor racing.  I think judging his work should be taken in the context of the era, as it should be for all art (I consider writing to be an art). And it was a pretty bloody time.     In retrospect it seems he was writing largely for a general audience…the magazines, in particular…rather than for informed enthusiasts. He did write a good bit  about automobiles aside from motorsports.  I recall reading “Kings of the Road” several times.  I can’t comment on his personality but I wonder about the reason for his suicide…depression, financial setbacks, terminal illness, etc? 

Same here, to a degree. Purdy, Daley, Scalzo and others (mis)informed me, but I guess I'd already seen there was no man behind their curtain. It might have been a pretty bloody time, but it wasn't nearly as bloody, nor in some cases nearly as graphically descriptive, as these writers made it out to be. What I call the "everyone died!" syndrome, which is quite silly when one realizes the number of surviving drivers from the early era of motorsports that were around when these writers were active. I mean, Ralph Mulford was still around when these writings were being published. And he was hardly alone. There were plenty of drivers from the era they wrote about who not only survived their careers, but lived far beyond the average lifespan. Some are still around even as I type this.

 

I'm familiar with writing for a general audience vs. a specialist audience, but that's no excuse. The opposite really. Purdy and his ilk exaggerating the toll and graphically playing up the bloodshed is more damning, as it misinforms the general public.


Edited by Jim Thurman, 22 November 2022 - 18:22.


#41 Jack-the-Lad

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Posted 22 November 2022 - 20:20

Well, neither Purdy nor Daley seems to have damaged me permanently, so I’m glad I read their stuff.  ;) i still wonder about what might have prompted Purdy’s suicide, though.  



#42 Ray Bell

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Posted 22 November 2022 - 22:46

Originally posted by Jack-the-Lad
.....I still wonder about what might have prompted Purdy’s suicide, though.


It's often an indefinable thing...

My 36-year old stepson, with the world at his feet, on a great income and with all the toys (Ranger ute all set up for long distance travel, WRX, two jetskis, a 4-wheeler for bush bashing), really appreciated by his employer and not short of friends, recently took a 4,000km drive to visit his father, old friends, one of his brothers and former workmates, went back home and did himself in.

#43 SJ Lambert

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Posted 23 November 2022 - 07:17

Hemingway did say that 'All good stories end in death', which is perhaps a clue. Some of Purdy's stuff was v. readable and even informative, but his short stories were dreadful. Hemingway, of course, was a master of the short story, although not q. up to Kipling. But then, not many are...

Hemingway did say that 'All good stories end in death', which is perhaps a clue. Some of Purdy's stuff was v. readable and even informative, but his short stories were dreadful. Hemingway, of course, was a master of the short story, although not q. up to Kipling. But then, not many are...

Kipling05-D306-D0-5818-4928-9-DA6-52-CD65-E05-B

#44 Sterzo

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Posted 23 November 2022 - 13:48

It's often an indefinable thing...

My 36-year old stepson, with the world at his feet, on a great income and with all the toys (Ranger ute all set up for long distance travel, WRX, two jetskis, a 4-wheeler for bush bashing), really appreciated by his employer and not short of friends, recently took a 4,000km drive to visit his father, old friends, one of his brothers and former workmates, went back home and did himself in.

That is terrible to hear, and I shall not be alone in wishing you the deepest sympathy.



#45 Ray Bell

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Posted 23 November 2022 - 21:04

Thank you...

 

The unpredictability of such things shows that suicide must spring from deep-rooted fears or problems nobody can understand, or mental imbalances which are below the surface but ready to strike.



#46 Steve99

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Posted 24 November 2022 - 12:12

Thank you...

 

The unpredictability of such things shows that suicide must spring from deep-rooted fears or problems nobody can understand, or mental imbalances which are below the surface but ready to strike.

 

Terribly sad. I lost a close friend on Christmas Day, 2017. She hanged herself. It's no exaggeration to say she was the most popular, cheerful, fun, and beautiful person I ever knew.



#47 Jim Thurman

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Posted 02 December 2022 - 20:32

Another thought I've had is that there is no shortage of dime store Hemingways writing about motorsports, but where is the Saroyan?

 

At one time, as a teenager and a motorsports fan, I held Hemingway with great contempt for what I viewed as overly macho bull----, and held him accountable for inspiring so many of these lesser lights to dim bulbs. I even told a teacher this in pretty much those same terms during an American Literature class. In hindsight, it was greatly unfair to lay that at his feet. Much as one music writer proclaimed that Led Zeppelin should not have been blamed for inspiring many far lesser talents taking on - and expanding upon - the worst of their qualities.



#48 SJ Lambert

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Posted 07 January 2023 - 01:09

Technically just a bushwalk, The Walls of Jerusalem has a very steep entry approach past Trappers Hut to Herods Gate - the glacial moraine vistas are stupendous. Even impressed my 16 yo son!

52533-EF5-5-C85-4-A53-80-A0-018755-F7-F0


CCC93-D1-A-99-DA-4619-93-F2-F89-D1-AEF57

D5490-FD6-80-A6-4-A43-8-C57-997-B6-C8-D8

15-BA0947-F5-DA-432-F-9-E2-F-8-EACB0344-

4-C6-AE5-AE-89-AA-4-BDB-BC2-C-72-A4-F9-A

#49 E1pix

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Posted 07 January 2023 - 01:22

Awesome, James. :-)

#50 Ray Bell

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Posted 07 January 2023 - 05:08

Love the pic with the reflections across the lake...

 

There aren't all that many opportunities to get shots like that in Australia;