on June 23, 2004
A witty and elegant subversion of the fantasy genre.
It astonishes me that some of the reviewers below never figured out that the book of which this one purports to be an abridgment /doesn't exist./ There never was an S Morgenstern, nor were there kingdoms of Florin and Guilder (the names of medieval coins, not countries.)
/The Princess Bride/ is a novel about the relationship between a sick boy and his grandfather. The grandfather emigrated to America as an adult. During the boy's confinement, the grandfather reads him their fictitious ancestral country's national novel, cutting and reworking as he goes to transform it into a straightforward adventure story the boy will enjoy. The problem of teaching a child born in America to identify with his national heritage is a difficult one; after all, people from the old country smell funny, eat weird things, talk with accents, and don't know anything about baseball. I imagine that Goldman himself comes from an immigrant family. In that light, this book is in part his response as an adult to his memories growing up, and it is warm and engaging.
But Goldman manages not to let this turn into treacle by combining it with an adventure story so good that they made a movie out of it. The scenes with Fred Savage in the movie are not extraneous, they're vital to the book's unique quality: naive self-consciousness. It's a book that's basically about someone reading a book (take that, postmodernism,) but it uses the metatextual conceit to add to the story by giving it a deeper social significance rather than to detract from it by making it the object of games with meaning. We accept both the realistic world of a boy coming to terms with his family and heritage, and the fantastic world of ROUSes, Holocaust Cloaks, and Humperdinck's life-suctioning machine.
You can read this book simply for the adventure story, which is what many people appear to have done, but in my opinion, there's a better novel written around the adventure story than in it. Whichever you prefer, I suppose.
on December 22, 2003
This is an excellent book, as long as you don't go into it wanting a conventional fantasy novel. At some points during the reading, you will realize that Goldman did not write the book intending for it to be a pure fantasy, but perhaps more of a satire of reality. His entire point in writing it was to show readers that they are in the real world. The characters and happenings are so far fetched because Goldman wants us to realize that life isn't a fantasy.
If you've seen the movie, read the book to get more out of the story. If you haven't seen the movie, read the book and then see it. If you've already read the book, why are you looking at reader reviews?--I mean--buy the movie.
Oh yeah... there are plenty of reviews here saying that this book is so horrible because Goldman cut hundreds of pages out of S. Morgenstern's original Princess Bride. Do not pay any attention to these reviews... these people have been misinformed. S. Morgenstern was a fictional writer invented by Goldman. He is just a character in Goldman's story. This story is not abridged, as it may seem(The 'Good Parts' Version). It is just a tale that Goldman made up, or maybe his father made it up, or maybe his father's father... the point is, the tale was never WRITTEN anywhere else until Goldman came along, so you are not missing anything in reading THIS version. Please do not go and try to find S. Morgenstern's original... that would be an impossibility, as well as a waste of time.
on June 27, 1997
And I'm taking this book with me when I go! I was a huge fan of the movie for years, before I came across the novel, and now my favorite film is far and away my favorite book as well.
(Unfortunately, I gave my blue copy to a guy that turned out to be a real jerk...but that's a different story all together...)
This fairy-tale is the perfect blend of romance, farce, adventure, fantasy, humor and character development. Indescribably wondermous.
I beg you in the name of all sacred books, *PLEASE* get yourself a copy of this book! Read it to yourself, read it to your significant other, read it to your children, read it to shut-ins, read it to strangers on the street! It doesn't matter...just read it! Share the joy that *is* the Princess Bride. Share the joy of Westley and Buttercup and Inigo and Fezzik and Vizzini and Prince Humperdink and Count Rugen and the Fire Swamp and Miracle Max and Valerie and the white horses and the Pit of Despair...
This is what people mean when they talk about wonderful stories. And after all, what girl isn't looking for her Farm Boy to simply answer "As you wish."?
on August 2, 2008
The Princess Bride was released in '74, way back when I was 14 years old. My father tossed it to me after he had finished it and told me I would like it. I liked it so much I was one of the many (suckers) who sent away for the reunion scene between Westley and Buttercup that Goldman offered on page 153 of the paperback. Heck, I was 14, I wanted more of the story, and if all it was going to cost me was a stamp....
I'm 48 years old now, and I still read this book every once in a while; it never gets old. Sometimes I find myself skipping ahead a little, then I remember Fezziks logic "fool, fool, back to the beginning is the rule."
No matter the genre of books you prefer, be it horror, mystery, sci-fi, and no matter your age, you must, MUST read this book. It has been in my top 10 since I was 14. My 8 year old son wants to read it which I think is fantastic, because he'll have 6 years on my first reading it.
on November 26, 2014
Let me explain this book to you!
The Princess Bride novel formed the basis for the film of the same name. The book is very tongue-in-cheek as it pretends to be an “abridged” version of a fictional longer version by a totally made up author called “S. Morgentern.” The real author is William Goldman, who is also a screenwriter. He served as screenwriter for the Princess Bride film. The fairy tale in the book/film is a humorous adventure/love story about Buttercup and Westly in the fictional land of Florin.
The film starts with a grandfather reading “S. Morgenstern’s The Princess Bride” to his grandson. In the film, the fairy tale is punctuated by moments between the grandfather and grandson as they talk about Buttercup’s story. William Goldman’s novel is different. Instead of a grandfather/grandson set-up, Goldman has 2 Introductions and 1 epilogue (as well as many interjections in the middle of the fairy tale) whereby he describes his “life” (all made up) with his psychiatrist wife and son. In real life, Goldman has 2 daughters. There is also lots of made up stuff about fighting with Morgenstern’s estate. None of this is true, it’s just there for fun.
So now that you understand the set-up, here’s my review of the book, in a few points:
1) Buttercup’s story is similar in the film and book, but there is more backstory for the characters and some elements that are not included in the film (e.g., Prince Humperdink has a “Death Zoo” in the book but not in the film). These additions are fun, and if you liked the film you’ll probably find this to be an enjoyable read. There is also an epilogue/chapter on Buttercup's Baby but I'm sad to say I didn't enjoy this part as much.
2) The book was written in the 1970s from a male perspective. The only major female character is Buttercup and she’s extremely beautiful and not that smart. Women are judged on their beauty in the book, and men are judged on other merits (with the exception of a wife of a Miracle Man). If this bothers you, skip the book and film. I understand the book/film as products of their time, and it’s funny enough that I could appreciate it regardless. But I did notice the difference between this and more modern fairy tale stories.
3) The two introductions, epilogue, and moments of interjection about Goldman’s (fictional) life and backstories were not so interesting to me. They are meant to be funny, and some people may enjoy those parts, but I just wanted to get back to the awesome fairy tale. Luckily, the fairy tale is most of the book. I think these interjections are, in part, a literary device to make us impatient for the fairy tale, and in this way they’re successful!
4) The book is not expensive, and it’s a good value.
In sum, it’s fun and silly and has lots of original characters. I read it while I was sick (just like Fred Savage in the film) and it was perfect for a light read. I’d rate it high for entertainment value.
on May 17, 2014
1. I loved the movie as a kid and reading the book brings back so much nostalgia and childhood memories :)
2. Goldman's writing style makes this such an entertaining read. I like how he added his input and thoughts in between scenes which does well in connecting the readers to the author. There were multiple times where Goldman had me wondering if everything he wrote was fictional which required some googling to confirm. He totally had me fooled in some parts.
3. It's killing me to know that I can't read the reunion scene and yet Goldman keeps teasing about it in the book. Gahh...
4. I LOVE LOVE LOVE all the characters! Especially Fezzik, he's such a sweet and gentle giant :D One of my favourite scenes had to be Buttercup's confession, oh man that had my LOLing so hard.
5. An epilogue titled "Buttercup's Baby" was included in my edition of the book. To be honest, it wasn't the best epilogue written (I just skimmed through it) but it was nice to see a little more into their futures.
6. The book was exactly as I remember the movie to be. There were some scenes in the book I wished they could have adapted into the movie.
on December 8, 2012
I had already seen the movie before I read the book. In order to fully appreciate the movie, you've got to read this quirky, comical, and unique book.
The book is brilliant. It's light-hearted, adventurous, and absolutely ridiculous. The humour is clever and somewhat subtle - most of it is contained in one-liners and short conversations. The story blends a medieval setting with modern elements superbly, such as people wearing jeans and having hair-stylists, all the while maintaining the illusion that you're in another time. The scrapes that the characters are continually finding themselves in are sheer genius.
The story can fool you easily. All I will say is that there was never any such person as Morgenstern. There was never an "original" Princess Bride, just this one. The forward and the "abridgements" are complete and utter lies, but it adds to the oddity of this wonderful book.
Read it. I guarantee you'll love it. It has something for everyone. "Fencing. Fighting. Torture. Poison. True love. Hate. Revenge. Giants. Hunters. Bad men. Good men. Beautiful-est ladies. Snakes. Spiders. Beasts of all natures and descriptions. Pain. Death. Brave men. Coward men. Strongest men. Chases. Escapes. Lies. Truths. Passion. Miracles."
on August 30, 2005
I loved the movie (1987) so when I saw the book in my favourite used bookstore, I thought I'd pick it up to see how it compared. For that person who doesn't know "The Princess Bride", the plot centres around the kidnapping of the most beautiful woman in the world by her fiancé so he can start a war with the neighbouring country. That kind of makes it sound like an intriguing drama but it's actually a romantic comedy. So, now you know.
I was very surprised at how well the movie followed the book. I suppose that is the result of Goldman's history as a screen writer ("Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid"). Of course, he also wrote the screenplay for "The Princess Bride". The book, however, has much more of the S. Morgenstern background story. According to Goldman, the book was actually a history of the country of Gilder written by S. Morgenstern read to him as a child by his father.
This is a great book for young readers as well as older, cynical readers. The humour is both obvious and subtle at times. The wit is variously sarcastic, satirical and ascerbic. The S. Morgenstern device is creative and adds an another dimension to the story that makes a good book better, as well as sucks the younger reader into Goldman's constructed reality.
on June 6, 2004
A lot of people have seen the film The Princess Bride and would know of the book from the film. The movie has for long possessed a cult-like status, being seen as funny, warm, irreverent and full of classic "love and adventure". All these things are true about the book, only more so. Like the film, the story follows the strife of the love between Westle and Buttercup, as Buttercup is set to marry the prince of Florin and all the circumstances in the world seem to be set against the true lovers from being reunited. The book has all the adventure elements of the movie such as the Cliffs of Insanity and the Rodents Of Unusual Size. It has more detail though and adds much more to the story, sepcially in the Zoo section of which the movie only took bits from as well as the backstories of the characters. The other major difference is that the wrapper story, instead of a grandfather reading to a sick grandson, is that the book is Goldman's abridgement of a classic Florinese work.
The Princess Bride can be looked at from some kind of post-modern tribute to adventure stories, full of deliberate and often humorous anachronisms. But I think it's so much more than that. It seems to be the only book I've read that's both a great member of a genre (the cloack and dagger, adventure-filled, swashbuckling romance) as well as a parody of the same genre. It's amazing how it's pulled off - on the one hand it's cynical about happy endings and the classic elements of adventure stories and sends them up in an amazingly funny way and yet reading it, you still feel a part of you yearning for those classic elements and finding them marvelously present in the book.
And of course, the characters are truly larger than life, from Inigo the Spanish swordsman who has dedicated his life to finding the man who killed his father to Fezzik, the slightly-slow-witted giant with a brand heart, sense of humour and love of rhymes.
Many readers in the reviews were annoyed by Goldman's whole wrapper of the book being written by Morgenstern as well as the 30 page intros and digressions into his fictional struggles to get the book published. An unbelievably high number of people fell for the whole thing and are currently hunting for the "unabridged" Princess Bride by Morgenstern! Personally, I enjoyed the digressions very much. I think without them it might have just ended up as a more conventional adventure story and not the cult classic it is. There's something about the whole appeal to an older/"greater" writer as well as some mockery of the world of publishing and manuscripts (and Morgenstern's digressions!) that adds to the cynical-yet-not-cynical nature of the book. I think the reason is that the book is a story and it's also about stories and storytelling and because it has so many layers, all of them warm and filled with Goldman's quirky visions, that everyone can get a lot out of it. So don't expect a regular, uninterrupted narrative!
Finally, this edition has Goldman's recent and brief return to the book, the first chapter of Buttercup's Baby (as Goldman was only allowed to do one chapter due to legal reasons, read the book!). In it, he picks up (sort of...) where the story left off and presents some fragmented visions of the characters from both past and present. I guess it's understandable that some fans wouldn't be happy as they might feel emotionally attached to the classic, which also feels like a complete-in-itself work. However, I read the whole thing for the first time (including Buttercup's Baby) over two days recently and it was actually quite good to get that little bit extra about the characters. I think if people saw the book as the classic but the supplement as quite a meaningful addition to our knowledge of the characters (especially Inigo) then it wouldn't seem so "sacriligeous".
This is the favourite book of many people and while it's not my absolute favourite, I think it's beyond superficial rank claims - just a really special novel.
on May 17, 2004
First of all, the whole idea of the "good parts" version of a classic text is hilarious. I wish there was a good parts version of some of the real classics...Goldman's parenthetical statements and commentaries about the original text are what make this book worth reading. His creative comments about the academic interpretations (and his subsequent translations into real people ideas/language) are down right hilarious. Anyone who has ever been up for thesis review or worked in an academic environment can appreciate this to some extent.
I especially loved his little comments here and there about the sexes and cultural mores, like his statement about hairdressers and how they have existed from the beginning of time. He says that Adam was the first hairdresser but that the translators of the King James version of the bible did their best to muddle that fact. Too funny!
His clever wit and the way he so adroitly bleeds the traditional fairytale of excessive romanticism is great. The movie does not do this book justice. Who would have thought of a princess who never bathes and has goobers behind her ears??? And Buttercup's conversations with people (especially her first conversations with Westly and then the first encounter with Humperdinck) are curt, practical, and free of that overly emotional, utterly feminine heroine stereo-type (for fairytale princesses, anyway). There is a flavor of underlying bitterness in this story and I don't think it's a great fiction to say that Goldman himself has had less than a fairytale love life. His dedication to the dire (not so happily ever after) reality of romantic love in the context of "good parts" is the ultimate satirical element of the story.