The eccentric life of the author of the novel ‘El Graduado’ | People

The graduate it has remained like a movie for history. The interpretation of Dustin Hoffman and Anne Bancroft is a recurring myth when you want to stage the whim of a mature woman for a young man, who in the film is a university student who actually loves the daughter and not the mother of the Robinson couple. However, the name of the author of the original novel in which the story is inspired is not as popular as the plot or the protagonists of the film that won the Oscar for best director, had seven other nominations in 1967 and ended up being selected for its preservation in the National Film Registry after the United States Library of Congress deemed it “culturally, historically, and aesthetically significant.”

The graduate is the first novel by Charles Webb, a peculiar man, who made almost no money for his film adaptation and who has just died at 81 years of age due to a blood disorder, as confirmed by his old friend and journalist Jack Malvern in the American milieu Deadline. Webb, who died on June 16 in Eastbourne, England, got his novel published in 1963 and when it was adapted to the film version directed by Mike Nichols four years later, its author only raised $ 20,000 (just over € 17,700). ) for its rights, while the film has grossed nearly € 89 million at the box office since its release.

Dustin Hoffman and Anne Bancroft in an image intended to publicize ‘The Graduate’. Archive Photos / Getty Images

Webb said the story of the young man who sets out on an affair with Mrs. Robinson, wife of his father’s business partner, was not autobiographical, but was based on his own experiences in Los Angeles after graduating from a college in Los Angeles. the east coast of the United States. The author of the book on which the movie was based, which generated millions of revenues – and continues to pay copyrights – nevertheless chose a life away from the glitz and glamor of Hollywood. “The graduate he has given millions and millions and here I am, looking for a couple of pounds to buy a sandwich, “he once said in an interview with him on the BBC.

Bohemian and quirky, Charles Webb chose with his wife, Eva, a life different from what might be supposed to be the author of such a success. They homeschooled their children, ran a nudist camp in New Jersey and, in a display of activism against America’s marriage laws, got divorced to stay together until Eva passed away last year.

To those who were once amazed that his financial situation was not as comfortable as could be supposed he could only argue that he was happy not to live a life centered on materialism: “My wife and I have done many things that we would not have done if we were rich … I would have been counting my money instead of focusing on educating my children, “he said in an interview with the Associated Press in 2006.

In another profile posted by The Telegraph It is stated that in 1970 he gave away all his possessions and that he was working in a branch of the Kmart department store when he realized that on the shelves there was a new product to teach children to go to the bathroom called precisely The Graduate. A moment when he came to understand how his novel would haunt him forever. The British media describes him as a thin and lanky man, who was not interested in money and who came to write a sequel to his famous novel only to find out how the story of the young protagonists of his original book, Benjamin and Elaine, continued. Mrs. Robinson’s daughter, who manage to escape together at the end of the first installment. Home School, which was the title of this second book, takes up the story 11 years after that end. The couple have two children and have stayed within the system and are more bourgeois than they are willing to admit.

Charles Webb, author of the novel 'The Graduate' photographed in Brighton, England, in February 2005.
Charles Webb, author of the novel ‘The Graduate’ photographed in Brighton, England, in February 2005. Photoshot

In the interview with the British newspaper, he acknowledges that he and his wife had led “more chaotic, illogical and irrational lives, although the more I look at it, the more I can see that there is a strange order in everything.” Webb had a bad relationship with his father and claimed that he had blocked almost everything that happened in his childhood – which developed in a traditional wealthy bourgeois family – because he remembered it as “an endless depression.” “My father’s attitude toward The graduate it’s illustrative of what it was like, ”Webb told The Telegraph: “When the book came out, I was horrified at the embarrassment it could cause to the family. But when the movie was a hit, he said, ‘That’s my boy!’

He also said that he wrote his novel in part to exorcise some of the anguish he felt for his family and in part to win the favor of his mother who was always reading books: “I thought if I could write one. He was always looking for crumbs of approval from her. But it didn’t work, ”Webb said. When the film was released the writer was already married to Eva, who changed her name to Fred to represent her identification with a self-help group for men suffering from low self-esteem. Together they decided to get rid of their possessions: first they gave away their tickets for the movie’s VIP premiere, then their wedding gifts and later two houses; in total one million euros in assets.

Freed of what were burdens for them, they traveled and worked as caretakers, fruit pickers, dishwashers… and Webb assured that they felt happier. As it was for them to be fleeing from one home to another to prevent their children from going to school as required by law. In 2001 Eva-Fred collapsed from eating disorders and for two years she basically slept, as her husband explained. “When she came out of that state, she had two alternate personalities,” she told The Telegraph, “one day she was normal and the next a five-year-old girl. It’s his way of dealing with things. “

His children came out relatively well off his life of paranoia: one chose to dedicate yourself to performance art and the other works in an oil company. Webb is not known if he regretted his choices but when the British newspaper questioned him about it, he only knew how to say: “I think that when something seems inevitable, regret is a luxury that you cannot afford.” What is clear is that he lived how he chose to do it.