The novel The Natural was published in 1952 by the American writer Bernard Malamud; it marks the writer’s debut in the literary field and the start of his literary career. While Bernard Malamud published short stories before the novel, The Natural is what made Malamud be noticed as a writer.
This novel is considered as being the only novel that does not follow the pattern Bernard Malamud set in his following novels, in which the central character is almost all the time Jewish or analyzes certain problems that Jews had to face. In fact, in The Natural there are no Jewish characters at all.
The Natural is considered by critics as being a complex novel, blending a story about baseball with mythical elements. The main character is a baseball player with the name Roy Hobbs who was injured by a woman who shot him in the stomach. The first chapter presents the incident and then the second chapter presents events happening 15 years later after the shooting. The mythical story of the Fisher King is woven into the narrative, being adapted to the modern times.
The themes found in the novel are classic ones, such as mythology and the inability to overcome a certain flaw. Another theme analyzed in the novel is the lack of modern heroes. For the writer, heroes don’t not exist. The heroes are only normal people who managed to convince other to believe that they are extraordinary. The book was adapted into a film in 1984 and the novel gained even more recognition during that time. The film is different from the novel and many things were changed to make the film be more optimistic; despite these alterations, both the novel and the film became successful quickly.