Encyclopedia Article

The Natural - Research Article from St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture

This encyclopedia article consists of approximately 1 page of information about The Natural.
This section contains 236 words
(approx. 1 page at 300 words per page)

Bernard Malamud's acclaimed first novel, The Natural (1952), retells the Grail story of Arthurian legend as a modern baseball tale and metaphor for contemporary life. Malamud's middle-aged protagonist Roy Hobbs, both a Percival-like Grail knight and a Fisher King figure (as his name suggests), recovers from his near-fatal groin injury, joins the last place New York Knights, and brings new life to the team, its manager Pops Fisher (another Fisher King), and even the baseball field itself. Although he has the Grail (pennant) within his reach, Roy accepts a bribe and loses the final game. Predictably, the Hollywood version of The Natural (1984), directed by Barry Levinson and starring Robert Redford, turns Malamud's darkly comic tale into entertaining but standard cinematic fare. Roy refuses the bribe and—although gravely wounded—bangs a home run out of the park, knocking out the stadium lights, which burst like fireworks. Afterwards, Roy, his beloved Iris (Glenn Close), and their adolescent son return to live—presumably happily ever after—on Roy's family farm.

Further Reading:

Astro, Richard, and Jackson J. Benson, editors. The Fiction of Bernard Malamud. Corvallis, Oregon State University Press, 1977.

Field, Leslie A., and Joyce W. Field, editors. Bernard Malamud and the Critics. New York, New York University Press, 1970.

Helterman, Jeffrey. Understanding Bernard Malamud. Columbia, University of South Carolina Press, 1985.

Hershinow, Sheldon J. Bernard Malamud. New York, Frederick Ungar, 1980.

Richman, Sidney. Bernard Malamud. New York, Twayne, 1966.

This section contains 236 words
(approx. 1 page at 300 words per page)
The Natural from Gale. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.