January 15, 2014
The Princess Bride by William Goldman (Review)
Author: William Goldman
First published: 1973
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Another choice for Coursera Fantasy and Sci Fi book club has quite unexpectedly become a huge success with me. It's rather surprising, because really, if you read the premise it sounds like a typical Disney story. Don't let it mislead you! Even though “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.” are all present, as promised, it's also very, very funny.
The book is subtitled as "S. Morgenstern's classic tale of true love and high adventure. The "good parts" version abridged by William Goldman", and it starts with an introduction in which the fictionalized Goldman explains how he came to love this book and why it needs abridging. The problem with the "original Morgenstern" is that he was writing a satire, and some satirical parts are better left out if the reader is not particularly interested in Florinese history and politics. So Goldman is doing what his father was doing when he read his son from the book - skipping the boring stuff. He actually substitutes it with his own commentary, justifying his omissions and commenting on their content. Sometimes the commentary also tells the reader about Goldman's experience when he was first read the book by his father. So, this way, with the additional awesomeness of Morgenstern's and Goldman's commentary, the story is told.
And the story itself is rather potent: not only does it have all the elements of a great narrative (fencing and true love, dudes!), it is also very ironic, with some twists of the plot rather unthinkable and some purely ridiculous. Yet, all of them pertaining to the style.
With all this complexity, the story holds together surprisingly well and is read in one breath. It took me only two nights, and that with all the impending exams. That says something about it!
In my book:
A great story: engaging, humorous, comforting. An unusual format adds to the appeal and doesn't distract :)