- 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 8.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars See all reviews (207 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #43,829 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Natural Paperback – July 7, 2003
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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
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Top Customer Reviews
First, Roy Hobbs himself. To be sure, he was not a very nice person; I found myself thinking of Ted Williams---who said again and again he wanted to be the best he was, the greatest hitter who ever lived---and, going farther back, to one Tyrus Raymond Cobb whose early life had a tremendous impact on the player---and man---he became. In spite of his terrible temper Williams, however, was more of a human being; I used to enjoy reading about his conversations with other players, particularly one pitcher for whom he had great respect (he even let this pitcher use some of his bats!) Not so Hobbs.
There was one scene, both in the book and in the movie, that had me laughing fit to split and still does, because it continues to put me in mind of an actual episode concerning those misbegotten St. Louis Browns circa 1949-1950---and an experiment that failed miserably. Briefly: the Browns had taken up residence in the cellar, and the front office decided they had to do something about it. You would think they would get a few players who new how to play the game, maybe a couple of coaches---even a new manager---but no. They went ahead and hired a psychologist in the hope that he could hypnotize this miserable team out of their doldrums. It didn't work. The psychologist was probably very good in other areas, but when it came to working with hypnosis---he was, in the words of a great pitcher with a great team in the American League East, a "one-trick pony" who had one technique that he ran into the ground. Of course it didn't work; this psychologist failed to consider that what was sauce for the goose was not necessarily sauce for the gander! No wonder Roy Hobbs got up and left, the manager chased after him, and Hobbs practically snarled at him "I signed a contract to play baseball, not for those shenanigans!" Well, the Browns started the 1950 season in the cellar; in May of that year they managed to win four games but still ended up in the cellar---so they fired that psychologist, and a couple of years later they moved to Baltimore and became the Orioles. (Incidentally, I knew that pitcher quite well; he had a good working knowledge of how to use hypnosis and a few other tricks up his sleeve besides that arm.)
Mr. Malamud devotes a great deal of space to the whys and wherefores of the hitting slump, and one can gain much from a careful reading of this section. He also devotes a great deal of space to Roy Hobbs' eating proclivities, and one must mention the great Babe Ruth who was perhaps the first of the great "fressers"---and here I must say something about a third baseman named Andy Carey who ate and ate and ate and where did it all go? (He probably had an extremely high metabolism, unlike the Babe and Mr. Hobbs.) And, of course, he discusses Hobbs the poor fish who went looking for love---or was it lust?---in all the wrong places and what became of him; there is indeed a huge difference between the ending of the book and the ending of the film, and the reader is invited to take his or her pick. Again I think of one Theodore Samuel Williams and one Tyrus Raymond Cobb, and how both of them came to grips with their personalities. Fascinating reading indeed.
On a side note, I'm not sure if Malamud was going for humor when he describes the massive amounts of food Hobbs consumes on some evenings in the book, particularly at the ill fated party toward the book's end, but I found his diet absurd.
For any teachers out there, I made a study guide to go along with the book since it's very difficult to find a lot of teaching materials to go with it. It's on Teachers Pay Teachers. Shameless plug, I know.