The Princess Bride (by William Goldman, first published 1973) is a celebration of story-telling. It is a story in a story in a story. William Goldman tells the story of his father telling him a story of an abridged story by S. Morgenstern, which has all sorts of political side-agendas for Morgenstern’s day. There are lots of “authors” in the book, and the story celebrates adventure in a non-interesting world.
Morgenstern’s story of The Princess Bride revolves around a farm girl and her adoring servant. Their love is ridiculous. They never say anything to each other, and Buttercup is flighty and ridiculous. This is not a book of strong characters but rather of stereotypes.
These stereotypes make the book the rollicking fun that it is: the power-hungry king willing to kill his beautiful bride to start a war, the romantic and superficial relationship between the two lovers, the Spaniard’s quest for revenge, an emotionally needy giant, the mafia-like Scilian who is really ridiculous. Each character has an underlying story to add to the menagerie. It is lots of fun to watch the adventures unfold. The Princess Bride celebrates that everyone has story, even the stereotypical heroes and villains.
That said, rereading The Princess Bride as an adult was not as satisfying as reading it as a teenager. I like reading the histories of the characters (much of the prehistory has been left out of the movie) but I was not as satisfied with the novel. Goldman has written a story within a story within a story, and yet each “author” has the same voice: that of Goldman. In that respect, it’s disappointing.
Nonetheless, the book as a whole is a fun journey. During my teenage years, The Princess Bride movie was kind of a touchstone work. I watched it many times and I always loved it: the ridiculous romance, the exaggerated adventure, the daring rescue and reunion, the great lines throughout. When I read novel, I likewise am in love with the fantasy world created. It’s not a favorite novel, but it certainly is a fun interlude.
Chrisbookarama is hosting a readalong of this fantasy novel. I couldn’t wait to reread it! The month-long readalong begins this week, so if you want to join in, there is plenty of time. Make sure you find the version abridged by Goldman, as the S. Morgenstern version has lots of boring parts.