Fans of the Robert Redford film The Natural may not recognize the book which inspired it. Much darker and more tragic than the movie, Malamud’s novel explores what makes a hero through the tragic figure of outfielder Roy Hobbs, a deeply flawed, self-absorbed man blessed with an incredible natural gift for baseball. Too late Hobbs understands the necessity of learning from suffering and the doom that comes to those who ignore life’s lessons. Malamud draws readers into his story by immersing them in the sounds, sights, smells, and nostalgia of baseball. The film became much beloved by changing Hobbs from a tragic figure to a redeemed and triumphant hero of baseball. One question to explore is why this profound change was made. By removing the tragedy of Hobb’s failure, have the filmmakers fallen into the same error as Hobbs and missed the wisdom and truth of the novel’s main message?
Bernard Malamud, 1914–1986
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1952.
Lehigh University Catalog Record: https://asa.lib.lehigh.edu/Record/49189