The Princess Bride (1973)

by William Goldman

When William Goldman was 10 years old and in bed with pneumonia, so he tells us in The Princess Bride, his father read him S. Morgenstern’s Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure, and he “got hooked on the story.” When he grew up he discovered that Dad had done him the favor of leaving out the boring parts, so Goldman decides to do the same in a new edition.

As his father answered when the young Goldman asked what the book was about, there’s everything a fantasy reader desires: "Fencing. Fighting. Torture. Poison. True love. Hate. Revenge. Giants. Hunters. Bad men. Good men. Beautifulest ladies. Snakes. Spiders. Beasts of all natures and descriptions. Pain. Death. Brave men. Coward men. Strongest men. Chases. Escapes. Lies. Truths. Passion. Miracles."

The Princess Bride is the tale of the beautiful Buttercup and Westley, the farm boy with whom she falls in love. He sets off to seek their fortune, Buttercup receives the misinformation that he has died, and she is forced to become engaged to the odious Prince Humperdinck of Florin. Westley returns to rescue Buttercup, putting in motion a series of adventures involving a good-hearted giant, a revenge-seeking master swordsman, an inventor of a torture machine, Prince Humperdinck and his Zoo of Death, and more.

Weaving through the fantasy adventure is Goldman’s witty commentary about Morgenstern’s original book and about Goldman’s own life with an overbearing psychiatrist wife. So persuasive is Goldman’s writing that some readers actually believe there is an S. Morgenstern and a Helen Goldman.

Whether you read The Princess Bridge as an adventure story, fairy tale, homage to old-fashioned romances, or spoof, it’s a lot of fun.


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