The Natural by Bernard Malamud

The NaturalThe Natural by Bernard Malamud
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

[Audio Version]
It was in 1984 that Robert Redford starred in the movie adaptation of Bernard Malamud's The Natural. In the film version Redford played the main character, Roy Hobbs, as a wild-eyed, mildly arrogant innocent, not unlike Johnny Hooker from The Sting. The result was a pleasant and upbeat film with a tried and true Hollywood happy ending. There was barely a hint of the calculating evil that inhabited the darkness the shadows around Hobbs. Yes, there was some darkness, a few shady characters, but nothing that the movie Roy Hobbs couldn't rise above.

I had heard, or perhaps read, that the book was considerably darker than the film. While I enjoyed the Redford interpretation I was looking forward to something a little meatier than the sugar-coated movie treatment.

I have no rule about reading the book before seeing the movie. Movies don't wreck the book for me. Nor do I don't shy away from downbeat novels.

The Natural came with a reputation as being one of the better baseball stories ever written. However, even though I was a captive listener as I drove in rush-hour traffic twice a day, I don't think that I could have gotten through the 6-disk set without that image of Robert Redford’s Hobbs in the back of mind. It gave me hope that the thick as a brick novel-version of Roy Hobbs might find some sort of redemption before it was all over.

From the beginning, Roy Hobbs comes across as a self-centered, borderline narcissist. His only virtues are his conceit, his arrogance and his ability to throw a baseball. Hobbs is a completely humorless figure oblivious to the needs or insidious designs of those around him. The problem is that Hobbs is so unlikeable that whether people are intent upon doing him harm, or in some cases good, it is impossible to care. Whenever it appears that Hobbs might actually take a turn towards likability, it is his own boorishness that ultimately undermines any progress. He never shows any serious growth or maturation. Instead he wallows in self pity, bemoaning his run of bad luck, which is considerable, but mostly of his own doing.

The Natural is not the only book to feature an unlikeable jerk as its main protagonist, but without much of a hook beyond the main character being a gifted underachiever, there is little about Hobbs that is engaging or even interesting. It's hard to feel for a self-centered character who has no understanding of consequences and never accepts responsibility for his actions, whether it's engaging in a one-night stand that almost cost him his life, fathering a child that he'd rather not acknowledge or causing the death of the scout who signed him. Nevertheless, perhaps because of the memory of that Redford movie, I persevered with hope that Hobbs might turn a corner might towards self-redemption. No such luck. The closest that Hobbs ever comes to introspection is his regret about being caught fixing a game. It ends up costing the backstabbing Roy whatever remained of his career. By the time a former fan, a young boy, ask Hobbs, “Why did you do it?” I had ceased to care.

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  8. The problem is that Hobbs is so unlikeable that whether people are intent upon doing him harm, or in some cases good, it is impossible to care. kitchen remodeling Cedar Crest

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  11. The Natural is a timeless classic that continues to be enjoyed by readers and viewers alike. It is a story that resonates with people of all ages and backgrounds, and it is a reminder that anything is possible if you never give up.
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  12. The Natural is a masterpiece of American literature. It is a beautifully written and deeply moving story about a man who is given a second chance. It is a novel that will stay with you long after you finish reading it.

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  14. It's interesting to read your thoughts on the book "The Natural" by Bernard Malamud, especially in comparison to the film adaptation starring Robert Redford. It's not uncommon for film adaptations to take a more optimistic or commercially appealing approach compared to the original source material. In the case of "The Natural," it seems the character of Roy Hobbs was considerably more complex and unlikable in the novel, making it challenging for readers to connect with or sympathize with him. location

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  15. "The Natural" by Bernard Malamud is a classic piece of literature that delves into the complex world of baseball, capturing the essence of both the sport and human nature. Through its captivating storytelling and memorable characters, it explores the themes of ambition, morality, and the pursuit of dreams. A must-read for sports enthusiasts and anyone looking for a thought-provoking literary journey. | https://americanpolyfloor.com/

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  16. It's interesting to hear your perspective on Bernard Malamud's "The Natural" and how it compares to the movie adaptation featuring Robert Redford. Your detailed analysis highlights the contrast between the more upbeat and Hollywood-friendly portrayal of Roy Hobbs in the film versus the darker and less likable characterization in the novel. team

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  18. While the novel version of Roy Hobbs is a more complex and flawed character, the movie adaptation allows us to see the potential for good in him. Robert Redford's portrayal of Hobbs captures his determination, talent, and vulnerability in a way that can be both inspirational and moving.

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  19. "The Natural" by Bernard Malamud is a timeless classic that seamlessly weaves together elements of baseball, mythology, and the human condition. Malamud's prose is rich and evocative, creating a vivid portrait of his protagonist, Roy Hobbs, whose journey from the depths of despair to the pinnacle of success is both poignant and captivating. The novel explores themes of ambition, fate, and the enduring power of the human spirit, all set against the backdrop of America's favorite pastime. Malamud's skillful storytelling and nuanced characters make "The Natural" a compelling and thought-provoking read, leaving a lasting impression on readers and earning its place as a literary gem in the realm of sports fiction. | https://www.elevatortechnicians.com/

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  23. Malamud's evocative prose captures the beauty and brutality of the game, as well as the dark underbelly of fame and ambition.

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