Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Princess Bride

The Princess Bride: S. Morgenstern's Classic Tale of True Love and High AdventureThe Princess Bride – William Goldman
Evan’s ESS = 8 out of 10
Erin’s ESS = out of 10
Content = PG-13 (Adult Content, Violence, Swordplay, Consequential Drinking Games, Repetitive Death Threats)

“Good night, Westley.  Good work. Sleep well.  I’ll most likely kill you in the morning.”

“My name is Inigo Montoya, you killed my father, prepare to die!”

Why: If this review was important enough to have a title (other than The Princess Bride), it would be christened, The Tale of Two Opinions, which is significant considering only one of the Two Bibliomaniacs has read the novel.  Seriously, we want to boldly proclaim The Princess Bride as the most original and creative work of fiction ever penned.  And in the same breath we feel the need to ask why, oh why, was it necessary to do that to the narrative.  Let us explain.  Let us try to explain... 

William Goldman’s version of The Princess Bride is actually an abridgment of S. Morgenstern’s Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure.  What makes this so remarkable is that S. Morgenstern is actually a mere invention of William Goldman’s mind.  Get it?  The novel contains two separate narratives.  The first is the exciting story of Buttercup, Westley, iocaine powder, ROUSes, and a gentleman with six fingers.  The second is an entirely fictitious account of William Goldman’s life and the tedious process of abridging a lengthy novel focused on the excess of European high society.      

Our initial opinion of the actual abridgment is positive.  The story was funny, thrilling, suspenseful and romantic.  The dialogue was witty although every line felt like it would translate perfectly into a screen play...  The characters were great and in the case of Fezzik – larger than life.  The added realness of Westley and Buttercup’s relationship was welcomed, although the reunion scene at the base of the Fire Swamp left much to be desired...  We also learned some valuable insight into how tensions between Gilder and Florin escalated over a hat collection and the important distinctions between Snow Sand and Lightning Sand.

And then there’s the separate narrative about how the abridgement came about.  Our opinion is not so positive.  Yes, the technique was quite unique and at times funny, but it was also distracting.  Each time the abridgment was interrupted for some additional insight, we kind of just wanted to get back to the story.       

As a complete work of art, The Princess Bride was an enjoyable read.  Yes, we wanted more of the actual story and less of the commentary, but we always provide high marks for uniqueness.  This book IS unique and in many ways the journey was more enjoyable than the destination.  And even if you’ve seen the movie a dozen times, there’s enough extra plot to keep any staunch Cary Elwes or Robin Wright fan entertained.  Our only plea is to the S. Morgenstern estate: please let William Goldman abridge Buttercup’s Baby...


  1. The Princess Bride is one of my all time favourite movies but I have never read the book. Maybe I should read it for the books to movies challenge?

  2. I have seen Princess Bride so many times I've lost count, yet the only time I read the book was in eighth grade. I really need to read it again.

    I can see how the S Morgenstern angle could get really old after a while.

  3. I think my favorite part of the commentary was the bit about the hats and how much Goldman had to truncate the descriptions that Morgenstern had included of them. For some reason I remember laughing hysterically at it.

    I always saw this aspect of the novel as a reaction several centuries too late to writers like Hugo who went on and on about architecture and the other "boring bits" that Goldman "took out" of the novel. I didn't necessarily find the commentary to be distracting as much as I found it to be unnecessary in some parts. He could have cut out some of his comments and still have preserved what he set out to do.

    Great review for one of my favorite books/movies!

  4. I love this movie so much it was hard for the book to live up to my expectations. I did enjoy learning a bit more about some of the characters, but the whole Buttercup's Baby part I could have done without completely.

  5. Bonnie – Great idea!

    Kristi and Shelley – Being an avid fan of the movie definitely had a negative effect on my reading experience. There was plenty of unique material to keep me interested though.

    Gabriel – Thanks for articulating my thoughts better than I did...

  6. I really need to read this one. The Princess Bride is one of my favorite movies.

  7. I don't think this is the book for me, but I wanted to tell you how much I enjoy your reviews, in general. I don't think I comment enough, but you always write so clearly, but also are entertaining. Keep it up, and thanks again, for a wonderful review.