Author: William Goldman
I’ve loved this movie since I was old enough to understand what it’s like to actually love a movie. It’s got it all: action, adventure, romance, pirates, sword fights, rodents of unusual size, memorable lines worth quoting 30 years later. And I knew it had originated as a book. I just never took the time to read it. Until now.
Most of the time, I’ll write about the books I’ve read and I’ll tell you that the book is better than the movie. I won’t do that this time.Maybe it’s because the movie is such a classic in my mind, and it’s been so permanently etched into my brain that nothing could replace it, even if the novel came first. But, I’ll be honest, the novel is confusing.
For the most part, The Princess Bride is just like the movie. Buttercup and Westley fall in love. He goes to seek his fortune and supposedly dies. She, being the most beautiful girl in the land, is basically forced to marry Prince Humperdinck. She’s kidnapped by Vizzini, Inigo, and Fezzik. The Dread Pirate Roberts (Westley) comes to the rescue. Hilarity ensues and they all live happily ever after.
But you still have to contend with William Goldman’s take on the whole thing. First of all, he insists throughout the book that Florin (the setting of the story) is a real place in Europe, as is Guilder. He maintains that S. Morgenstern is the original author of The Princess Bride and that he (Goldman) is just the guy that’s abridging the original masterpiece. According to Goldman, Morgenstern’s work was over 1,000 pages long and full of a lot of boring details that weren’t important to the plot. Goldman also throws in some asides throughout the book. These sections are in italics, usually describing how he felt as a kid when his father read the original version to him.
The asides I don’t mind so much. Those are kind of like the movie, where Fred Savage would interrupt Peter Falk’s reading to complain about the kissing. But if I accept the asides, I may as well accept the rest of the ridiculous nature of the book. Goldman goes so far as to create a fictionalized history for himself. The wife and kid that he claims to have in the book don’t actually exist. By the way, neither do Florin or Guilder.