Natural Bernard Malamud Essays

Malamud himself was an avid baseball fan and a devotee of the Brooklyn Dodgers.He told me that on one of their first dates, he took his wife Ann to a double-header.

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By accepting these hard-learned lessons, his characters can become menschen (Ruth R. The film-maker Barry Levinson adapted the 1952 novel to film in 1984 with significant changes to the ending.

In the novel, Hobbs is a chastened man, headed back to the field of his youth. The film’s reworking of the novel’s beginning and end provides its own commentary on pastoral dreams and the American heroic tradition.

Teams took mythic names: “Pirates,” “Braves,” and “Giants,” or names that combined the pastoral and urban like the “Baltimore Orioles,” “St.

Louis Cardinals,” or “Chicago Cubs.” It is in this context, with its elaborate national lore of scores and batting averages and American heroes—Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Willie Mays, and Jackie Robinson—that Malamud found a fitting subject for his own meditation on heroism.

The book explores the desire to win: to have the best averages, to outrun, outscore, and outfield competitors and teammates.

Baseball provides a wonderfully fertile set of American images against which to set the perennial questions of the innately competitive and combative nature of American life and of individual ambition.

The film’s cast included Robert Redford, Glenn Close, Robert Duvall, Kim Basinger, Barbara Hershey, and Darren Mc Gavin.

When Levinson directed the movie version he seemed to invert the novel’s ending.

(1952), he had already earned critical notice for his earliest short stories, written in the Jewish folk tradition of Eastern Europe.

In those earlier works, Malamud used Yiddish constructions and transposed Yiddish words reminiscent of that tradition.


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