Bernard Malamud Biography

Biography (Masterpieces of American Literature)

ph_0111201245-Malamud.jpgBernard Malamud Published by Salem Press, Inc.

Bernard Malamud was born on April 26, 1914, in Brooklyn, New York. The older of two sons of Max and Bertha (Fidelman) Malamud, who had emigrated from Russia in the early twentieth century and ran a grocery store, he enjoyed a relatively happy childhood. Both Yiddish and English were spoken in the Malamud household, and a great emphasis was placed on the cultural aspects of Judaism. Malamud’s early years were spent going to the Yiddish theater on Manhattan’s Second Avenue and reading novels by such favorites as Horatio Alger. Doubtless his later writings were influenced also by his father’s stories of life in czarist Russia.

Malamud’s father and teachers encouraged young Bernard to develop his obvious talent for storytelling. One of his most cherished gifts he received at age nine; it was the multivolume Book of Knowledge encyclopedia that his father gave him after the boy’s recovery from pneumonia. Many of his boyhood nights were spent in the back room of the family store, putting on paper the stories he made up to amuse his friends. He would later confess a lifelong love for short fiction even over the novel, because, as he said “if one begins early in life to make up and tell stories, he has a better chance to be heard out if he keeps them short.” His interest in literature continued through high school at Erasmus Hall in Brooklyn, where he was an editor of the literary magazine and was involved in dramatic productions.

In 1936 Malamud graduated with a B.A. from City College of New York. He had written a few stories while in college, and after graduation he continued to write in the little spare time he had from jobs in a factory, a variety of stores, and as a clerk with the Census Bureau in Washington, D.C. While working on an M.A. at Columbia University, he taught English at Erasmus Hall Evening High School, devoting his days to studying and writing. He continued his teaching at Erasmus for several years after receiving his graduate degree in 1942.

In 1945, Malamud married Ann de Chiara. His father was quite upset by Malamud’s marrying a gentile but was later reconciled—on the birth of the couple’s son, Paul. During the 1940’s, Malamud’s stories appeared in several noncommercial magazines, a fact that made him happy even though he received no payment. In 1949, he sold “The Cost of Living” to Pearl Kazin at Harper’s Bazaar. In that same year, he and his family left New York for Corvallis, Oregon, where he had accepted a position at Oregon State University.

A lifelong city dweller, Malamud was overwhelmed by the vastness of the Pacific Northwest. Although...

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Bernard Malamud Biography (Masterpieces of American Literature)

Although undeniably part of the Jewish Literary Renaissance, Malamud is quintessentially a humanist. His novels and short stories, quite possibly some of the finest literary achievements of the latter half of the twentieth century, argue for the dignity and common bonds of all people. Occasionally experimental, Malamud basically uses traditional forms to stress traditional values. “My work, all of it,” he claims, “is an idea of dedication to the human. If you don’t respect man, you cannot respect my work.”

Bernard Malamud Biography (Literary Essentials: Short Fiction Masterpieces)

Born on April 26, 1914, Bernard Malamud was the eldest of two sons of Max and Bertha Malamud. His parents, who had emigrated from Russia, ran a grocery store. Both Yiddish and English were spoken in the Malamud household, where much emphasis was placed on the cultural aspects of Judaism.

This milieu as well as his father’s tales of life in czarist Russia provided much fodder for Malamud’s fiction. He was also influenced by many trips to the Yiddish theater on Manhattan’s Second Avenue, and by novels such as his favorite Horatio Alger stories and a multivolume Book of Knowledge that his father gave him when he was nine.

Throughout his boyhood in the back room of the family store, where he wrote stories, and his high school days at Erasmus Hall in Brooklyn, where he was an editor of the literary magazine, he was devoted to storytelling. In 1936, he was graduated from City College of New York. He had written a few stories in college and continued to write during a series of odd jobs. While working on an M.A. at Columbia University, he taught at Erasmus Hall Evening High School and wrote. In 1945, he married a Gentile, Ann de Chiara.

During the 1940’s, Malamud’s stories appeared in some noncommercial magazines. Then, in 1949, he sold the appropriately titled “The Cost of Living” to Harper’s Bazaar. That same year, he moved with his family to Corvallis, Oregon, where he worked at Oregon State...

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Bernard Malamud Biography (Survey of Novels and Novellas)

Bernard Malamud was born in Brooklyn to Russian immigrant parents. His father, like Morris Bober in The Assistant, was a small grocer, and the family moved around Brooklyn as business dictated. When Malamud was nine years old, he had pneumonia and began a period of intensive reading. Later, encouraged by his teachers, he also began writing short stories.

From 1932 to 1936, Malamud was a student at the City College of New York. He later began work on a master of arts degree at Columbia University, and, while teaching night school at Erasmus Hall, his own alma mater, he started writing in earnest. He married Ann de Chiara in 1945, and four years later he and his family moved to Corvallis, Oregon, where for twelve years Malamud taught English at Oregon State. A son was born before they left for Corvallis, a daughter after they arrived. While there, he published his first three books; after leaving, he wrote his satire of academic life in an English department, A New Life. Returning to the East in 1961, Malamud taught for many years at Bennington College in Vermont. He died in New York on March 18, 1986.

Bernard Malamud Biography (Society and Self, Critical Representations in Literature)

Bernard Malamud’s youth was spent in a setting much like that in The Assistant. His father was the owner of a small, struggling grocery store. His mother died when he was an adolescent. As a youth he had the freedom to wander around Brooklyn becoming intimately acquainted with the neighborhood. It was not a Jewish neighborhood, but Malamud came to understand the Jewish experience through his hardworking parents, immigrants from Russia.

Malamud began writing stories in high school, and his writing career reflects the discipline and determination of many of his characters. After graduating from Erasmus High School, he earned a Bachelor’s degree from City College of New York. He then attended Columbia University and earned the Master’s degree that enabled him to teach. He taught immigrants in evening school in Brooklyn then in Harlem for eight years, while writing short stories, before getting a job at Oregon State College in Cascadia, Oregon. There he wrote four novels and a collection of short stories. Malamud received the National Book Award for the short-story collection, The Magic Barrel, in 1959. He also received the Pulitzer Prize in fiction and the National Book Award for The Fixer in 1967. He accepted a position at Bennington College in Vermont in 1961, where he spent the rest of his teaching career, except for two years as a visiting lecturer at Harvard.

Malamud’s work has an allegorical quality like that of Nathaniel Hawthorne. His stories also reflect the Eastern European storytelling tradition. In this he is like such Yiddish writers as Sholom Aleichem and Isaac Leib Peretz. When Malamud describes, for example, a luckless character (called, in Jewish culture, a schlemiel) living in Brooklyn in the twentieth century, that person seems quite like someone living in the Jewish section of a Polish village. Malamud also captures in his works the sense of irony that pervades the folk stories of a people who recognize themselves as the chosen people and as the outcasts of society.

Malamud saw this paradoxical position as being the plight of all humanity, and he found in the Jew the ideal metaphor for the struggling human being. Acceptance of Jewish identity becomes, for his characters, acceptance of the human condition. Fusing this theme with a style that utilizes irony and parable, realism and symbolism, he presents the flourishing of the human spirit in an everyday reality of pressure and pain.

Bernard Malamud Biography (Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Although Bernard Malamud (MAL-uh-muhd) is the best-known spokesman of the Jewish experience in American literature, his short stories and novels transcend their ethnic origin and are really about all men and women searching for love and coping with moral responsibility. He was born on April 26, 1914, in Brooklyn, New York, to Bertha and Max Malamud, who ran a grocery store. Although Malamud never talked much about his youth, he did say once in an interview that he very early took to literature and wanted to be a writer; at age nine he was writing stories.

After finishing high school, Malamud attended the City College of New York, where he received his B.A. degree in 1936. Between 1937 and 1940, he attended graduate...

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Bernard Malamud Biography

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Bernard Malamud is the Chekhov of the urban Jewish milieu. Like the elegant short stories of the great Russian author, Malamud’s writings were deeply rooted in social concerns. He was raised in Brooklyn, New York, and the experiences of hard-working immigrants were particularly important to him. Linguistically, Malamud depicted this world using a mélange of English and Yiddish, giving his stories a unique and powerful rhythm. The language further served as a commentary on the cultural mosaic that was (and still is) New York. Within this often-bleak landscape, Malamud saw glimmers of hope and possibility. In doing so, he managed to created honest depictions of the Jewish immigrant experience with lyrical touches that suggested the potential the future might hold.

Essential Facts

  1. Although Malamud is not particularly known for sports writing or anything resembling Americana, one of his most loved works is the baseball story The Natural.
  2. Malamud earned a Pulitzer Prize in 1967 for his book The Fixer. It was turned into an Oscar-nominated film starring Alan Bates the following year.
  3. Like many writers, Malamud began his career writing short stories, which were later published in collections. He put out dozens of shorts throughout his career and won an O. Henry Award in the late 1960s.
  4. As a professor, Malamud taught at Oregon State University and Bennington College.
  5. For the past twenty years, the PEN/Malamud Award has recognized achievement in short-form writing. Notable recipients include celebrated novelist John Updike and the prolific Joyce Carol Oates.

Bernard Malamud Biography (Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Bernard Malamud was born on April 26, 1914, in Brooklyn, New York, the son of Russian-Jewish immigrants, Max and Bertha Fidelman Malamud....

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Bernard Malamud Biography (Novels for Students)

Malamud set The Natural in New York City, where he was born in 1914 and raised by his Russian Jewish immigrant parents. Growing up...

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Bernard Malamud Biography (Short Stories for Students)

Bernard Malamud was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1914 to Russian Jewish immigrants named Max and Bertha Malamud. He later described his...

(The entire section is 421 words.)

Bernard Malamud Biography (Short Stories for Students)

Bernard Malamud was born on April 26, 1914, in Brooklyn, New York, the son of Russian Jewish immigrants Bertha (Fidelman) and Max Malamud....

(The entire section is 437 words.)

Bernard Malamud Biography (Short Stories for Students)

Bernard Malamud was born in Brooklyn, New York, on April 28, 1914, to Russian Jewish immigrant parents who owned and operated a grocery...

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Bernard Malamud Biography (Novels for Students)

Bernard Malamud Published by Gale Cengage

Bernard Malamud was born in 1914 in New York City, in a neighborhood that had become famous as the settling place of Jewish immigrants throughout the first half of the twentieth century. His parents, Jews who had emigrated from Russia, worked sixteen hours a day in their grocery store. Malamud spent his childhood in Brooklyn, attending Erasmus Hall High School. It was in high school that he first began writing, starting with short stories about the life he knew best, urban Jewish life. He attended City College of New York—graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1936—and Columbia University, also in New York, where he earned a Master of Arts degree in 1942. While working toward his degree, he taught at high schools at night, and after graduation he continued to use his spare time writing and publishing short stories.

From 1949 to 1961, Malamud taught composition at Oregon State University in Corvallis. During this time, he wrote his first three novels: the first one, The Natural, was published in 1952 and made into a popular movie over thirty years later. It was followed by The Assistant in 1957, and A New Life in 1961, the latter about a Jewish writer from New York who moves to Oregon to teach composition, as Malamud himself did. His first collection of short stories, The Magic Barrel, established Malamud as a contemporary master of the form, winning him the National Book Award as well as international respect. In 1961, he moved back to the East Coast to teach at Vermont's Bennington College. It was while at Bennington that he published The Fixer in 1966. This novel won both the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize, and was made into a movie by John Frankenheimer in 1968.

Malamud wrote three more novels in his lifetime: The Tenants (1971), Dubin's Lives (1979), and God's Grace (1982). The Collected Stories of Bernard Malamud, published in 1982, was considered a major event in the publishing world. Malamud died in 1986 in New York City. He is often categorized as a "Jewish writer" because many of the characters and themes in his books concerned Jewish history and especially the Jewish-American immigrant experience. However, he is also recognized as simply one of the best fiction writers of his generation, especially for his craftsmanship of the short story.