Franz's Reviews > The Natural

The Natural by Bernard Malamud
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Jul 22, 12

Read in July, 2012

While Malamud's novel bears a family resemblance to the movie version, the book's tone and theme more closely matches the film of the Black Sox scandal, Eight Men Out. Though the film appropriates the characters and some of the main outlines of the book, the book is much darker. Malamud's book is less magical than the movie version: Roy Hobbs less handsome and less personable than Redford's Hobbs, and more psychically damaged and more susceptible to corruption; Iris almost as redemptive but with a much diminished and sadder role; Memo still beautiful but more conniving. Malamud is more interested in tracing the temptation of shallow ambition and hubris than Hollywood's need for a happy ending. When Hobbs finally finds his integrity, it's too late for it to be a source of happiness. This is a bitter book about a lost soul who allows himself to sink into a crass sensuality to only discover what is of real value. By then the opportunity for true redemption passed, and his final efforts, though noble, lead to impotent results and back to a life of obscurity without love. Frankly, the book is better than the movie.
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