Once upon a time, when I was about 13 or so one of my then-friends came over with a movie to watch. ‘The Princess Bride‘ to be specific. I had never heard of it, didn’t necessarily think I’d enjoy it and was more hoping for ‘Pirates of the Caribean‘, because Orlando Bloom. Boy, I was wrong. I fell in love with the movie, but it took me about 14 years to realize it was a book as well.
The Princess Bride: S. Morgenstern’s Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure: The “Good Parts” Version Abridged by William Goldman. Quite a mouthful! In the book, Goldman pretends to be a fan of the book (as it has been read to him by his father, enlighting his interest in books and writing), who wants to inspire his son. He finds the book, gives it to his son who finds it very hard to read. As it turns out, Morgenstern has put a lot more in the book than his dad read to Goldman so he decides to abridge it, as a gift to his son.
Goldstein VS the rest
This makes that the book has two sets of characters. First, you start with the intro which is written from the point of view of the writer, where he talks about why he abridged the book, about his family and his life.
In the ‘actual story’ there is a fair share of characters:
- the Princess Buttercup (who is not actually a princess, but just engaged to the prince, not too smart but very, very pretty);
- Westley the farm boy (Buttercups help turned
Dread Pirate Roberts turned mostly dead turned Buttercups rescuer turned baby daddy (in the sequel));
- the mean Sicilian with his crew, Inigo Montoya and Fezzik:
- Inigo Montoya (the greatest swordsman of all time, on a quest to revenge after seeing his dad murdered)
- Fezzik (A friendly giant, wrestler and inclined to rhyme so he remembers things);
- Prince Humperdinck (whose favorite moments are spent in his zoo of death);
- Count Rugen (the six-fingered man obsessed with measuring pain).
Humor but you got to like it
Because of Goldman also throwing in his ‘own memories’, it reads differently. There are two different stories to keep up with but he manages to keep it divided properly. Mostly because when he’s talking about himself, it’s all from his point of view, while in de story it’s from a third person.
Besides this, The Princess Bride has pretty much everything: Fencing. Fighting. Torture. Poison. True Love. Hate. Revenge. Giants. Hunters. Bad men. Good men. Beautiful Ladies. Snakes. Spiders. Pain. Death. Brave men. Cowardly men. Strongest men. Chases. Escapes. Lies. Truths. Passion. Miracles. And a massive portion of humor, with sayings such as ‘I’ll leave him an acre. (this was after acres)‘ throughout the whole book. And because’s it’s ‘only the good parts of the original’, the story reads fast and is packed with action and wittiness.
Tyrone, you know much I love watching you work. But I’ve got my country’s 500th anniversary to plan, my wedding to arrange, my wife to murder, and Guilder to frame for it. I’m swamped!
All in all
I loved the movie, but I probably loved the book just a bit more. And that’s simply because there’s more to love in the book. The addition of Goldman‘s own life and comments throughout the book made it different and I found them really funny (I like that dry, ‘duh’-kind of humor), and there’s more insight to the characters.
And, basically, everything is quotable. Think of quotes such as:
- ‘My name Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die’
- ‘You seem a decent fellow. I hate to kill you.
You seem a decent fellow. I hate to die’
- ‘As you wish’
- ‘You keep using that word. I don’t think it means what you think it means’
- ‘I have loved you for several hours now’
- ‘Never go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line!’