I loved The Princess Bride movie from the first time I saw it as a child. It is my "I'm staying home sick and watching an old favorite" movie. After years of wishing, I find out there is a book!?! Now it is my favourite "I need to believe in love again" book.
Take a courageous farm boy who's pretty darn smart. Then take the most beautiful woman in the world. Imagine that they're madly in love. Add an evil prince, some interesting swordplay, and a few more nut ball characters and viola- you've got The Princess Bride. While making fun of the
usual fairy tale, at the same time, it conveys the normal idea that good always triumphs over evil.
This 1973 book is fast becoming a classic, and the movie version has done much to popularize it. Goldman takes the conventional tale of romantic adventure featuring a kidnaped princess who is rescued by a gallant knight. However, Goldman departs from the stereotypical mould of the
romantic adventure by exaggerating the conventional roles to the point where the story evolves from a serious tale of adventure into a farcical spoof. It is not so much a contemporary version of the Sir Walter Scott type adventure as it is an exaggerated version. The delicious and distorted
blend of the lofty and the mundane that Goldman serves up results in a comical buffoonery. After all, who ever heard of a princess called "Buttercup", a prince called humperdinck and a hero (appropriately just a farm boy) called "Westley"? And who ever heard of countries that go by the names of currencies like "Florin" and "Guilder"? And who ever heard of pirates who retire?
The story itself features an evil villain (Humperdinck), a beautiful princess (Buttercup), and the humble hero (Westley). Westley needs to overcome the legendary Cliffs of Insanity and the dreaded Fire Swamp with its renowned R.O.U.S.s (Rodents of Unusual Size). In what appears to
be a farcical version of the three musketeers, he must also master the hired hands of his adversary, the infamous Sicilian Crowd, composed of the Turk Fezzik (a huge idiot whose contribution is his strength), the Spaniard Inigo (a tall athlete whose contribution is his sword), and the Sicilian Vizzini (a thin leader whose contribution is his brains). Just so you can picture this farcical trio accurately, imagine Fezzik as a bulk who started shaving in Grade 1, Inigo as a madman who has devoted only 72,000 hours to prepare for a single fencing battle with his
father's murderer, and Vizzini as a criminal mastermind who defies anything that doesn't fit with his logic as "inconceivable". Of course the mixture of strength, sword and brains doesn't faze our hero, and after he
successfully overcomes the skill tests of strength, swordmanship, and brains, some of the Sicilian crowd become his personal allies in the quest against Humperdinck. Ultimately, they are the ones who rescue him from death by forcing a resurrection pill (you haven't heard of those either, have you?) down his throat, and help him rescue Buttercup and ride off into the sunset with her on four white horses. But this isn't a typical adventure-romance, remember, so of course Goldman presents an alternative ending where there is no sunset, and the hapless hero is forever chased by the villains.
The movie version sticks very close to the book, and fans of the movie will especially enjoy this book. It is marred by a few instances of blasphemy, and the glorification of Inigo's obsession with revenge. But as a farce on the traditional romantic adventure, this book can be enjoyed by anyone with a sense of humor, and a vague awareness of the literary conventions that Goldman is mocking. As Goldman describes it: "Fencing. Fighting. Torture. Poison. True love. Hate. Revenge. Giants. Hunters. Bad men. Good men. Beautiful ladies. Snakes. Spiders. Beasts of all natures and descriptions. Pain. Death. Brave men. Coward men. Strongest men. Chases. Escapes. Lies. Truths. Passion. Miracles." Take these ingredients, mix well with a grain of salt, a sense of humor, and a strong measure of exaggeration and farce, and you have "The Princess Bride." It's the recipe for success, and this book proves it.
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