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The Natural Paperback – July 7, 2003

190 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews Review

Roy Hobbs, the protagonist of The Natural, makes the mistake of pronouncing aloud his dream: to be the best there ever was. Such hubris, of course, invites divine intervention, but the brilliance of Bernard Malamud's novel is the second chance it offers its hero, elevating him--and his story--into the realm of myth. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


“A brilliant and unusually fine novel.” ―The New York Times

“A preposterously readable story about life.” ―Time

“Malamud [holds a] high and honored place among contemporary American writers.” ―Washington Post Book World

“The finest novel about baseball since Ring Lardner left the scene.” ―St. Louis Post-Dispatch


Product Details

  • Series: FSG Classics
  • Paperback: 231 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; Reprint edition (July 7, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374502005
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374502003
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (190 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #46,533 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

81 of 88 people found the following review helpful By David G. Phillips on October 12, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I never realized how different the book version is a compared to the popular motion picture version starring Robert Redford. As many of you know the protagonist, Roy Hobbs was a natural at baseball, but his career is sidetracked by a crazed woman that kills famous sports athletes with a silver bulleted gun right before his tryout with the Chicago Cubs. Roy never had a chance to play with a Major League Baseball club until he was in his mid-thirties and well past his prime and was signed to a minimal salary to play for the NY Knights. Despite his age, Roy played better than anyone else during stretches in the baseball season, and raised the expectations of the Knights ballclub from a bunch of losers to true contenders.
In his story, Malamud explains the highs and lows of any sports athlete - being in the zone and hitting slumps. The major differences between Robert Redford performing like Roy Hobbs, and the true Roy Hobbs in Malamud's book, is that Hobbs is not superhuman - or a "Wonderboy" as his bat exclaims. Robert Redford plays a mysterious Herculean athlete that carries his team to a pennant. Whereas, Malamud's Hobbs is a normal guy with exceptional ballplayer skills - but he makes human mistakes. I think what most readers of `The Natural' will be most surprised at is the ending of the book - it builds up climatically just as the movie does, however the end is much different. I liked the book very much, and I am an admirer of Malamud's writing style. I recommend the book; I loved the movie, and I comparatively loved the book - but in a different way.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 20, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I wish that I would have read the book before I had watched the movie. I went into The Natural expecting to experience an uplifting story of a country boy who makes good, wins over his childhood sweetheart, and lives happily ever after. That, suffice to say, is not the way the book plays out. As a warning, other readers who enter the book with those same sort of narrow expectations will doubtlessly be disappointed somewhere along the way. However, I would be remiss to say that, in spite of the aforementioned let-downs (and perhaps even partly because of them), I found this work to be a facinating read. Malamud details a commentary on life, interspersed with wonderful Arturian allusions, through a saga of the game of baseball. Hobbs' character illustrates that, contrary to the movie's claim, that talent alone is not enough to succeed in life, and the way in which the story unfolds, while admittedly somewhat simple, is entertaining all the same. Once I got into it, I couldn't put the book down. The best advice I could give to readers would be to be open minded of the storyline, and not to limit yourself to preconceived expectations (this assuming you have watched the movie first). In doing so, I expect one will find Malamud's style to be fluid and his tale to be valuable.
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32 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Bill Besancon on May 11, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
In his 1952 novel, Bernard Malamud comments on the role of the hero in the modern world. In order to do so, he parallels Roy, the baseball natural and protagonist, with Percival the Arthurian knight. Roy is on a quest to join the game of baseball at the beginning of the novel. His first failure comes when he answers Harriet Bird's question wrong. When asked what he wants to become as a ballplayer, Roy can think of nothing more than personal gain. By inserting this in his book Malamud implies that many stars are in the game only for themselves. This refers to Percival asking the Fisher King the wrong question and being turned away. After a lapse of about fifteen years, Roy tries again to make it big in the pros. He joins a team called the New York Knights, an obvious relation to Arthurian legend, with the team coach Pop Fisher. Pop not only serves as a parent figure for Roy but he also resembles the Fisher King in the tale of Percival. Roy, who started out as a pitcher and is now a slugger, a reference to Babe Ruth, has made his own bat and dubbed it "Wonderboy". Roy's hitting is unbelievable while using this bat and he quickly becomes the league slugger. Percival, much like Roy, created his own lance with which to do battle. As Roy continues to increase in popularity, he is confronted with a wish from a dying lad at a hospital. His father asks Roy to hit a home run for his son because that is the only way his son will survive. Roy accepts this challenge and does in fact knock one out of the park for the boy and in doing so saving him. This alludes to Babe Ruth hitting a home run for the same reason. Malamud inserts this into his novel to show that even though most ballplayers are playing for personal gain, some also try to give back to the supporters.Read more ›
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Evan on May 6, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
A natural is defined as one who has natural talent, especially in baseball. In Bernard Malamud's 1952 novel, The Natural, written in Arthurian legend style, Roy Hobbs leads the New York Knights into victory after victory. With his trusty Excalibur-like bat dubbed "Wonderboy", Hobbs uses his natural talent and leads the Knights on a mythical quest for the pennant. In contrast, however, a natural may also mean, as it did in the Middle Ages, an innocent fool. In the novel, Malamud uses both definitions to tell a story of a hero whose pride got in the way. Throughout the book, Malamud uses references to different colors and the passage of the seasons as Roy meets a variety of different characters. The father-like coach of the Knights Pop Fisher, his puzzling love interest Memo, the pure Iris, the crooked gambler Gus Sands, and many more diverse characters help create a theme of good versus evil. From the ballfield where Roy wages battle, to the Pot of Fire night club where Roy is confronted with evil, Malamud develops the tragic story of a hero on a grail-like quest who is tempted by the forces of evil at every turn. In the novel, written much like a play, Malamud utilizes a pastoral style to present complex ideas in a natural way. Using film-technique, which is movie-like changes in scene, Malamud shows Roy's struggle to overcome the evil in his life. Facing the fixers, the fans, the slump, and the jinx, Roy Hobbs embarks on a mythical quest to battle pride and evil in a classic tale of the tarnishing of an American icon.
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