Monday, February 11, 2013

"The Princess Bride" by William Goldman

This is my first reread of The Princess Bride in over a decade.  I read it twice back when I was in college, and I have seen the movie dozens of times, of course.  In fact, until a college friend gave me the book for Christmas, I wasn't even aware there was a book!  Much less such a fun one.  Goldman  also wrote the screenplay for the movie, as well as for other movies like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.  

The great thing about this book, to me, is the off-beat humor.  If you've seen the movie, you know what I mean.  Nearly all the best lines in it come straight from the book, like "I'm not a witch, I'm your wife!" and "No -- to the pain!" and "Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya.  You killed my father -- prepare to die."  And, of course, the incomparable "Inconceivable!"  If I started listing all the particularly good bits in this book, I would basically just be doing a good parts version of the book, chapter by chapter.  Amazing stuff.

About the idea of the "good parts version."  Goldman's conceit is that he is condensing a book by a guy named S. Morgenstern, cutting out the boring parts so we don't have to wade through page after page of Florinese history.  But he totally made up the whole book, don't be confused by him the way I was the first time I read it and went around trying to find a copy of the Morgenstern original.  It's a hilarious way to frame a story, totally unique and awesome.

If you have been living on an iceberg for the past 30 years or so and do not know the story line, here it is, briefly:

Buttercup is the most beautiful woman in the world.  She loves Westley, a poor farm boy.  He leaves to seek his fortune in America, but the ship he is on is attacked by the Dread Pirate Roberts, who never leaves survivors.  Buttercup's grief consumes her, but eventually she agrees to marry Prince Humperdinck, warning him she will never love him.  Then she gets kidnapped by a giant named Fezzik, a wizard of a swordsman named Inigo Montoya, and a midget genius named Vizzini, and that's when the fun really begins.

I said I couldn't quote all the Particularly Good Bits here, but I will post one, my favorite this time through:

"...love is many things, none of them logical."

If This was a Movie, I Would Rate it:  PG-13 for violence and some strong language.

4 comments:

  1. This was required reading in our fencing class because of how well those scenes are written. :-D

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    1. Cool! So all those names of defenses and attacks, like "the agrippa" -- are they real, then? I always thought they were made up like the iocane powder.

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    2. Yep, those are real. :-D

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  2. Oh, my goodness, yes, yes, YES! I'm so glad you liked this book; I'd seen some less-than-impressed thoughts with the book, and then I read it (just finished it tonight, actually!), and I'm still thinking: "Um. Guys. This is pure gold." I LOVE Goldman's humor. Like when Buttercup says "syllabub." Oh, I died. And I also died at this part: "How are you?" "I am in something very close to agony, but we can talk about that later."

    Hahaha, how you said, "If you've been living on an iceberg for the past 30 years or so and don't know the story…" :D Isn't it fun how there are those movies that practically EVERYBODY has seen, or at least knows about? It tickles me;)

    That line, "Love is many things, none of them logical," is probably the line that stuck out to me the most, too.

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