Introduction by Kevin Baker
The Natural, Bernard Malamud's first novel, published in 1952, is also the first - and some would say still the best - novel ever written about baseball. In it Malamud, usually appreciated for his unerring portrayals of postwar Jewish life, took on very different material - the story of a superbly gifted "natural" at play in the fields of the old daylight baseball era - and invested it with the hardscrabble poetry, at once grand and altogether believable, that runs through all his best work.
Four decades later, Alfred Kazin's comment still holds true: "Malamud has done something which - now that he has done it! - looks as if we have been waiting for it all our lives. He has really raised the whole passion and craziness and fanaticism of baseball as a popular spectacle to its ordained place in mythology."