William Goldman's modern fantasy classic is a simple, exceptional story about quests—for riches, revenge, power, and, of course, true love—that's thrilling and timeless.
Anyone who lived through the 1980s may find it impossible—inconceivable, even—to equate The Princess Bride with anything other than the sweet, celluloid romance of Westley and Buttercup, but the film is only a fraction of the ingenious storytelling you'll find in these pages. Rich in character and satire, the novel is set in 1941 and framed cleverly as an “abridged” retelling of a centuries-old tale set in the fabled country of Florin that's home to “Beasts of all natures and descriptions. Pain. Death. Brave men. Coward men. Strongest men. Chases. Escapes. Lies. Truths. Passions.”
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About the Author
WILLIAM GOLDMAN (1931-2018) wrote books and movies for more than fifty years. He won two Academy Awards (for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and All the President's Men), and three Lifetime Achievement Awards in screenwriting.
Hometown:New York, New York
Date of Birth:August 12, 1931
Place of Birth:Chicago, Illinois
Education:B.A., Oberlin College, 1952; M.A., Columbia University, 1956
Read an Excerpt
The year that Buttercup was born, the most beautiful woman in the world was a French scullery maid named Annette. Annette worked in Paris for the Duke and Duchess de Guiche, and it did not escape the Duke’s notice that someone extraordinary was polishing the pewter. The Duke’s notice did not escape the notice of the Duchess either, who was not very beautiful and not very rich, but plenty smart. The Duchess set about studying Annette and shortly found her adversary’s tragic flaw.
Armed now, the Duchess set to work. The Palace de Guiche turned into a candy castle. Everywhere you looked, bonbons. There were piles of chocolate-covered mints in the drawing rooms, baskets of chocolate-covered nougats in the parlors.
Annette never had a chance. Inside a season, she went from delicate to whopping, and the Duke never glanced in her direction without sad bewilderment clouding his eyes. (Annette, it might be noted, seemed only cheerier throughout her enlargement. She eventually married the pastry chef and they both ate a lot until old age claimed them. Things, it might also be noted, did not fare so cheerily for the Duchess. The Duke, for reasons passing understanding, next became smitten with his very own mother-in-law, which caused the Duchess ulcers, only they didn’t have ulcers yet. More precisely, ulcers existed, people had them, but they weren’t called “ulcers.” The medical profession at that time called them “stomach pains” and felt the best cure was coffee dolloped with brandy twice a day until the pains subsided. The Duchess took her mixture faithfully, watching through the years as her husband and her mother blew kisses at each other behind her back. Not surprisingly, the Duchess’s grumpiness became legendary, as Voltaire has so ably chronicled. Except this was before Voltaire.)
The year Buttercup turned ten, the most beautiful woman lived in Bengal, the daughter of a successful tea merchant. This girl’s name was Aluthra, and her skin was of a dusky perfection unseen in India for eighty years. (There have only been eleven perfect complexions in all of India since accurate accounting began.) Aluthra was nineteen the year the pox plague hit Bengal. The girl survived, even if her skin did not.
When Buttercup was fifteen, Adela Terrell, of Sussex on the Thames, was easily the most beautiful creature. Adela was twenty, and so far did she outdistance the world that it seemed certain she would be the most beautiful for many, many years. But then one day, one of her suitors (she had 104 of them) exclaimed that without question Adela must be the most ideal item yet spawned. Adela, flattered, began to ponder on the truth of the statement. That night, alone in her room, she examined herself pore by pore in her mirror. (This was after mirrors.) It took her until close to dawn to finish her inspection, but by that time it was clear to her that the young man had been quite correct in his assessment: she was, through no real faults of her own, perfect.
As she strolled through the family rose gardens watching the sun rise, she felt happier than she had ever been. “Not only am I perfect,” she said to herself, “I am probably the first perfect person in the whole long history of the universe. Not a part of me could stand improving, how lucky I am to be perfect and rich and sought after and sensitive and young and . . .”
The mist was rising around her as Adela began to think. Well of course I’ll always be sensitive, she thought, and I’ll always be rich, but I don’t quite see how I’m going to manage to always be young. And when I’m not young, how am I going to stay perfect? And if I’m not perfect, well, what else is there? What indeed? Adela furrowed her brow in desperate thought. It was the first time in her life her brow had ever had to furrow, and Adela gasped when she realized what she had done, horrified that she had somehow damaged it, perhaps permanently. She rushed back to her mirror and spent the morning, and although she managed to convince herself that she was still quite as perfect as ever, there was no question that she was not quite as happy as she had been.
She had begun to fret.
The first worry lines appeared within a fortnight; the first wrinkles within a month, and before the year was out, creases abounded. She married soon thereafter, the selfsame man who accused her of sublimity, and gave him merry hell for many years.
Buttercup, of course, at fifteen, knew none of this. And if she had, would have found it totally unfathomable. How could someone care if she were the most beautiful woman in the world or not. What difference could it have made if you were only the third most beautiful. Or the sixth. (Buttercup at this time was nowhere near that high, being barely in the top twenty, and that primarily on potential, certainly not on any particular care she took of herself. She hated to wash her face, she loathed the area behind her ears, she was sick of combing her hair and did so as little as possible.) What she liked to do, preferred above all else really, was to ride her horse and taunt the farm boy.
The horse’s name was “Horse” (Buttercup was never long on imagination) and it came when she called it, went where she steered it, did what she told it. The farm boy did what she told him too. Actually, he was more a young man now, but he had been a farm boy when, orphaned, he had come to work for her father, and Buttercup referred to him that way still. “Farm Boy, fetch me this”; “Get me that, Farm Boy—quickly, lazy thing, trot now or I’ll tell Father.”
“As you wish.”
That was all he ever answered. “As you wish.” Fetch that, Farm Boy. “As you wish.” Dry this, Farm Boy. “As you wish.” He lived in a hovel out near the animals and, according to Buttercup’s mother, he kept it clean. He even read when he had candles. “I’ll leave the lad an acre in my will,” Buttercup’s father was fond of saying. (They had acres then.)
“You’ll spoil him,” Buttercup’s mother always answered.
“He’s slaved for many years; hard work should be rewarded.” Then, rather than continue the argument (they had arguments then too), they would both turn on their daughter.
“You didn’t bathe,” her father said.
“I did, I did” from Buttercup.
“Not with water,” her father continued. “You reek like a stallion.”
“I’ve been riding all day,” Buttercup explained.
“You must bathe, Buttercup,” her mother joined in. “The boys don’t like their girls to smell of stables.”
“Oh, the boys!” Buttercup fairly exploded. “I do not care about ‘the boys.’ Horse loves me and that is quite sufficient, thank you.”
She said that speech loud, and she said it often.
But, like it or not, things were beginning to happen.
Shortly before her sixteenth birthday, Buttercup realized that it had now been more than a month since any girl in the village had spoken to her. She had never much been close to girls, so the change was nothing sharp, but at least before there were head nods exchanged when she rode through the village or along the cart tracks. But now, for no reason, there was nothing. A quick glance away as she approached, that was all. Buttercup cornered Cornelia one morning at the blacksmith’s and asked about the silence. “I should think, after what you’ve done, you’d have the courtesy not to pretend to ask” came from Cornelia. “And what have I done?” “What? What? . . . You’ve stolen them.” With that, Cornelia fled, but Buttercup understood; she knew who “them” was.
The village boys.
The beef-witted featherbrained rattleskulled clodpated dim-domed noodle-noggined sapheaded lunk-knobbed boys.
How could anybody accuse her of stealing them? Why would anybody want them anyway? What good were they? All they did was pester and vex and annoy. “Can I brush your horse, Buttercup?” “Thank you, but the farm boy does that.” “Can I go riding with you, Buttercup?” “Thank you, but I really do enjoy myself alone.” “You think you’re too good for anybody, don’t you, Buttercup?” “No; no I don’t. I just like riding by myself, that’s all.”
But throughout her sixteenth year, even this kind of talk gave way to stammering and flushing and, at the very best, questions about the weather. “Do you think it’s going to rain, Buttercup?” “I don’t think so; the sky is blue.” “Well, it might rain.” “Yes, I suppose it might.” “You think you’re too good for anybody, don’t you, Buttercup?” “No, I just don’t think it’s going to rain, that’s all.”
At night, more often than not, they would congregate in the dark beyond her window and laugh about her. She ignored them. Usually the laughter would give way to insult. She paid them no mind. If they grew too damaging, the farm boy handled things, emerging silently from his hovel, thrashing a few of them, sending them flying. She never failed to thank him when he did this. “As you wish” was all he ever answered.
When she was almost seventeen, a man in a carriage came to town and watched as she rode for provisions. He was still there on her return, peering out. She paid him no mind and, indeed, by himself he was not important. But he marked a turning point. Other men had gone out of their way to catch sight of her; other men had even ridden twenty miles for the privilege, as this man had. The importance here is that this was the first rich man who had bothered to do so, the first noble. And it was this man, whose name is lost to antiquity, who mentioned Buttercup to the Count.
Copyright © 1973, 1998, 2003 by William Goldman
Map and reader’s guide copyright © 2007 by Harcourt, Inc.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.
Requests for permission to make copies of any part of the work should be submitted online at www.harcourt.com/contact or mailed to the following address: Permissions Department, Harcourt, Inc., 6277 Sea Harbor Drive, Orlando, Florida 32887-6777.
Table of ContentsContents
Introduction to the 30th Anniversary Edition vii
Introduction to the 25th Anniversary Edition xxxi
The Princess Bride 1
Buttercup’s Baby: An Explanation 359
Buttercup’s Baby, Chapter One: Fezzik Dies 389
Reading Group Guide 451
What People are Saying About This
A comic adventure romance which moves all over the world and dances through history...
Reading Group Guide
What happens when the most beautiful girl in the world marries the handsomest prince of all time and he turns out to be...well...a lot less than the man of her dreams?
As a boy, William Goldman claims, he loved to hear his father read the "S. Morgenstern classic, The Princess Bride. But as a grown-up he discovered that the boring parts were left out of good old Dad's recitation, and only the "good parts" reached his ears.
Now Goldman does Dad one better. He's reconstructed the "Good Parts Version" to delight wise kids and wide-eyed grownups everywhere.
What's it about? Fencing. Fighting. True Love. Strong Hate. Harsh Revenge. A Few Giants. Lots of Bad Men. Lots of Good Men. Five or Six Beautiful Women. Beasties Monstrous and Gentle. Some Swell Escapes and Captures. Death, Lies, Truth, Miracles, and a Little Sex.
In short, it's about everything.
Eventually to be adapted for the silver screen, THE PRINCESS BRIDE was originally a beautifully simple, insightfully comic story of what happens when the most beautiful girl in the world marries the handsomest prince in the world--and he turnsout to be a son of a bitch. Guaranteed to entertain both young and old alike by combining scenes of rowsing fantasy with hilarious reality, THE PRINCESS BRIDE secures Goldman's place as a master storyteller.
From the Paperback edition.
1. READING GROUP QUESTIONS
AND TOPICS FOR DISCUSSION:
The Princess Bride
1. William Goldman states that he is adapting The Princess Bride from a novel written by the great Florinese writer, S. Morgenstern. Do you believe that there really is such a person? Why or why not? And why do you thinkGoldman might want to confuse readers about this point? Is that confusion necessary for the kind of story he is trying to tell?
2. Goldman, in his parenthetical asides to readers, refers to Morgenstern as a satirist and the "unabridged version" of The Princess Bride as a satire. Webster's Dictionary defines satire as "a usually topical literary composition holding up human or individual vices, folly, abuses, or shortcomings to censure by means of ridicule, derision, burlesque, irony, or other method sometimes with an intent to bring about improvement." Going by this definition, is the "good parts" version of The Princess Bride a satire? If you think it is, explain why, and what is being satirized. If not, what kind of book is it?
3. The Princess Bride is also considered to be a fantasy. The paperback version, published by Del Rey Books, is actually marketed that way–just look at the spine. The most famous fantasy novel of the twentieth century is J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. In what ways does The Princess Bride resemble Lord of the Rings? In what ways is it different?
4. Goldman wrote the screenplay for the film version of The Princess Bride. There are many differences between the two. Identify as many as you can. Why do you think Goldman made these changes? With which of his choices do you agree? Disagree?
5. Why do you think that Goldman inserts himself as a character in his own novel? What other books have you read where the author adopts this narrative strategy?
6. Does Goldman present himself as a sympathetic character? Think about how he describes his relationships with his wife, son, and father. How do these relationships illustrate the fictional Goldman's virtues and faults? And do you think Goldman is portraying his actual wife, son, and father, or are they also fictionalized characters?
7. The Princess Bride can be thought of as two intertwining tales, one focusing on Westley and Buttercup, the other on the life of Goldman himself (or the fictional Goldman, at any rate). How do these two stories parallel and play off of each other?
8. Should writers draw a firm line between fact and fiction? If a writer puts himself into his story, does he have a moral obligation to be truthful about himself, or is he free to treat himself (and any other real-life person similarly inserted) as a fictional character?
9. When we first meet Inigo and Fezzik, they are working with Vizzini to kidnap Buttercup. Later, they become allies of Westley in his efforts to rescue her. What causes Inigo and Fezzik to change . . . or do they really change at all over the course of the novel?
10. Is Goldman's portrayal of Buttercup misogynistic? Is there a pattern in the way that women are portrayed in The Princess Bride, from the starlet Sandy Sterling to Goldman's psychoanalyst wife, Helen, to the lawyer Karloff Shogg, who appears in the Buttercup's Baby addendum?
11. Compare the relationships between men–such as Goldman and his father, Fezzik and Inigo, Inigo and Domingo, and Goldman and his son–and those between men and women, especially Westley and Buttercup. Which are presented more positively? Why do you think that is?
12. Is Westley's initial anger at Buttercup for agreeing to marry Humperdinck fair? Based on his actions and words, including, at one point, striking her, might Westley be considered an abuser? Are his demonstrated attitudes toward women reinforced or undermined by the text, both in his own story and in Goldman's comments?
13. Count Rugen is certainly a sadist, as is Prince Humperdinck. Other characters display submissive or even masochistic behaviors–as, for example, early on, when Westley repeatedly replies "As you wish" to Buttercup's petty commands. How do these strains of sadism and masochism color the portrayal of true love in The Princess Bride?
14. In the introduction, Goldman writes: "But take the title words–‘true love and high adventure'–I believed that once. I thought my life was going to follow that path. Prayed that it would. Obviously it didn't, but I don't think there's high adventure left any more." Later, he adds: "And true love you can forget about too." Does the rest of the book offer support for these words, or does it refute them?
15. In another parenthetical aside from Goldman, he quotes the mother of one of his childhood friends, Edith Neisser, the author of "terrific books on how we screw up our children," as telling him: "Life isn't fair, Bill. We tell our children that it is, but it's a terrible thing to do. It's not only a lie, it's a cruel lie. Life is not fair, and it never has been, and it's never going to be." Do these words sum up the theme of the novel? Why or why not?
16. A search of the Internet reveals that Edith Neisser is a real author, just as Goldman claims. How does this knowledge affect your opinion of Goldman's veracity about the existence of S. Morgenstern and other questions?
17. Is Goldman laughing with his readers . . . or laughing at them?
lN CONSIDERING THE RELATIONSHIP between the freelance writer and a great publishing house, it may be helpful to think of the lowly remora. This cute little fish survives by glomming onto a shark and sucking its blood. Sharks are not the most discriminating of diners, but remoras aren't too finicky, either. They can't afford to be. And so it is with freelancers like myself. Yet occasionally an assignment comes along that feeds the soul as well as the body, and although no freelancer will publicly admit it (we don't even like to admit we have souls, much less worry about feeding them), the truth of the matter is that there exists for every freelancer a job that he or she will do, well, for free. This is mine.
Let me explain. I've been a fan of The Princess Bride since I was a teenager. I own a copy of the movie and watch it two or three times a year. I read the book at least once a year. I foist it upon friends and girlfriends; in college, I once broke up with a girl over the question of whether or not Westley was really in love with Buttercup or just the idea of Buttercup. You might think, then, that I know a lot about The Princess Bride. I certainly thought so. I was wrong.
Just how wrong wasn't clear until the Monday I got a call from Ballantine Books asking if I'd be interested in conducting an interview for the 30th Anniversary Edition of The Princess Bride. Would I? Dear reader, I would have paid for the privilege. Heck, I would
1. THE REMORA have killed for it. I told Ballantine I would check my schedule and get back to them. (Freelancer Rule No. 1: Always play hard to get.) The first question I askedwhen I called back five minutes later (Freelancer Rule No. 2: But not too hard!) was: when will I be interviewing Mr. Gold? I didn't actually say “Mr. Gold”; that was just as far as I got before the beautiful Denise cut in. (Denise works in Editorial. Even though I live in New York City, I've never actually met her, but I figure that anyone with such a beautiful voice has got to be beautiful all over.)
“Oh,” said the beautiful Denise, “you won't be interviewing him. We want you to interview the characters about true love.”
“I see,” I said, although I didn't.
“We need it by Friday,” she added, beautifully. “Bye, Remora!” Okay, she didn't actually say “Remora”–I just felt like a sucker. The beautiful Denise? Oh, she was beautiful, all right. Beautiful like a shark.
* * *
2. THE PROFESSOR
INTERVIEW THE CHARACTERS. It was a tough job, no question. But did I panic? Did I despair? Are you kidding? We freelance writers enjoy a good challenge. I spent the next four days researching The Princess Bride. Then I panicked. My deadline was less than twenty-four hours away, and I was no closer to my goal than when I'd started.
Oh, I know what you're thinking. Why not make something up? But I refused to consider it. How could I? The Princess Bride is based on a famous episode in Florinese history, and it's wrong to take liberties with history. Goldman didn't do it. Morgenstern didn't do it. And by God, I wasn't going to do it, either. So what did I do? I did what any self-respecting freelancer would do under the circumstances: made a beeline for the nearest bar. I sat down, ordered a shot of cheap whiskey, and toasted my reflection in the fly-spotted mirror: “To Denise, who wrecked my freelance career . . . beautifully.”
After the coughing had subsided, I ordered another and again prepared to toast my reflection: “To the beautiful Denise, who . . .”
I trailed off. Sitting beside me, studying me intently, was a whitehaired old geezer sipping a glass of wine.
“She broke your heart, this Denise,” he said in a surprisingly
“In a manner of speaking,” I said. “Although I've never met her. Actually, I've only heard her voice over the phone. But it's a remarkably beautiful voice.”
“I understand,” he said. Strangely enough, I believed him. “Who are you anyway?”
He handed me a card. It read:
K. Bongiorno, Ph.D., M.M.A. Chairman, Department of Florinese Literature Columbia University I looked up from the card into a kindly, weathered face framed by a wild mane of white hair. “Not Professor Bongiorno, the preeminent authority on Morgenstern?”
He inclined his leonine head with grave modesty, as if to say that he did not claim such a distinction for himself but would not dream of insulting me by disputing it. “But this is fantastic,” I exclaimed. “You're the one man who can help me!”
“I shall be glad to try. But in matters of the heart, I am only
“This isn't about Denise,” I told him. “It's not about love at all. It's about The Princess Bride!”
“Young man,” he said sternly, “The Princess Bride is about nothing if not love.”
“What about adventure?”
“Love–true love–is the biggest adventure of all. Now, tell me your troubles.”
So I did. The professor listened without interrupting. When I finished, he raised his snowy eyebrows. “A piece of cake.” He dipped his fingers into the breast pocket of his jacket and produced a pair of battered bifocals, which he set down on the stained surface of the bar. “Go ahead,” he said. “Pick up the sodding bifocals.”
“I beg your pardon?”
“S.O.D.–Suspension of Disbelief. Haven't you ever heard literary critics telling each other to sod off? Well, this is what they're talking about.” I picked up the glasses; they looked like they were already antiques when Ben Franklin invented bifocals.
“Look through the top half of the lenses, and whatever you're reading is perfectly normal,” Bongiorno explained. “But peek through the bottom half, and the action becomes suspended, frozen, and you, the reader, enter the story. You can talk to the characters . . . though only one at a time. When you're done, the story will resume, and the characters will forget they ever saw you.”
Seeing my skepticism, the professor continued: “It will be just as real as the two of us talking at this bar, I assure you.”
“But if this were true, it would have to be some kind of miracle . . .”
He rolled his eyes. “Of course it's a miracle! Look on the card! What do you think M.M.A. stands for: Medieval Marching Association? Merry Men Amalgamated? No! It's Master of Miraculous Arts.”
I gasped. “You're a miracle man . . . like Miracle Max!”
“Max was the greatest ever. I'm nothing compared to him.” Bongiorno lifted his wine glass. “To true love and high adventure!”
I raised my shot glass and drank the toast. After the coughing had subsided, I noticed that the professor was gone, and the bartender was glaring at me.
“Sod off,” he growled.
And that's exactly what I did.
* * *
3 . T H E T U R K
RUSHING BACK TO my East Village apartment, I threw myself onto my futon, slipped the bifocals on, picked up my copy of The Princess Bride, and began reading. As always, the story swept me away. It wasn't until chapter five, when I had to scratch my nose, that I remembered the bifocals. Without thinking, I glanced down. Big mistake. I was in midair. A zillion miles below me was a sparkling blue bay and a boat the size of a toothpick. I screamed and grabbed on to the nearest object, a redwood tree that happened to be growing perpendicular to a sheer cliff face.
“Who are you?” asked the tree.
The tree, of course, was Fezzik, who was climbing a rope up the all-too-aptly named Cliffs of Insanity. Vizzini, Inigo, and the kidnapped Buttercup were hanging like Christmas ornaments from his huge torso. Glancing down again, I saw the man in black. He was close: only about a million miles away. Who knew that high adventure was so, well, high?
“Who are you?” repeated Fezzik.
I introduced myself and explained about the sodding bifocals.
“What should I do, Vizzini?” Fezzik asked anxiously. “Inigo, what should I do?” But neither the Sicilian nor the Spaniard replied; like everything and everyone else, they were frozen. I was impressed: Bongiorno knew his stuff.
I couldn't get over how big Fezzik was.
“I can't get over how big you are,” I said. “You make Andre the Giant look like Danny DeVito.”
“I do not know this giant Andre.”
“He plays you in the movie.”
“What is a movie?”
I had forgotten that this was before movies. I decided to get on with the interview. “So, Fezzik,” I said as calmly as I could while holding on for dear life, “What is true love?”
He shifted nervously. “Can you give me a hint? I'm scared I'll get it wrong. Vizzini hates when I get things wrong!”
“There's no right or wrong,” I said. “I just want your opinion.”
“When Vizzini wants my opinion, he tells me what it is.”
“I'm not Vizzini. Come on, Fezzik. You must love something.”
He thought. “I love having friends . . .”
“Vizzini isn't your friend,” I protested. “He's evil and mean!”
“He rescued me from Greenland–which, by the way, is not green.”
“He's going to take that big knife of his and kill Princess Buttercup!”
“Maybe he won't really cut her up.”
“He will, and you know it. Doesn't loyalty have limits?”
“Not to dimwits.”
“You're not a–” My ear finally caught on. Fezzik was doing what he always did when he felt lonely or scared: rhyming.
“Hey, let me try; I'm good at rhymes!”
“But bad at climbs.”
Professor Bongiorno, it turned out, had neglected to mention one detail. When I sodded off into the story, all the characters were frozen . . . except the one I was talking to. Taking one massive hand from the rope, Fezzik flicked me off his shoulders like you or I might flick a bug. The interview was over. And so, it seemed, was I.
* * *
4 . T H E S I C I L I A N
BUT INSTEAD OF smashing onto the rocks, I found myself back on my futon. Man, I thought, these sodding bifocals are better than wireless Internet! I wondered if they worked on other forms of reading material. The Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue beckoned from the coffee table. But then I remembered Freelancer Rule No. 6: Never miss a deadline. If I blew this, there would be no more assignments from Ballantine. And no more phone calls from the beautiful Denise, either. I paged further ahead in chapter five and glanced down.
“Welcome,” said Vizzini, leaping to his feet.
“You don't seem surprised to see me,” I said, taking a step back (he was holding a knife: a very long, very sharp knife). I had interrupted the picnic of death. The two wine goblets sat filled with wine and the deadly poison iocane. The man in black sat frozen before one of them. Buttercup, also frozen, lay bound and gagged to one side.
The Sicilian made a mocking bow. “Very little surprises a man of my intellect. You, for example, are from the future. You've traveled back in time by means of an advanced technology in order to meet the greatest criminal genius of the age: me.”
I was flabbergasted. “How could you possibly–”
“A chain of logical deductions quite beyond your ability to
grasp, I'm afraid. No offense.”
He sidled nearer. “It's plain that you chose to appear in this particular place and time because of my impending victory over the man in black. It further goes without saying that you know which of the goblets holds the iocane. I considered forcing that information from you, but then I realized it wasn't necessary. Since you've come from the future to witness my triumph in the ultimate battle of wits, it follows that my choice of goblet is bound to be the correct one. Why?” He cackled. “Because from your perspective, I've already made it. The future is fixed; to change it would be
“Amazing,” I said.
“Still, I wonder if I could kill the man in black while he's frozen? An interesting experiment, don't you think?”
I hadn't considered the possibility. Could Vizzini change the plot of The Princess Bride by stabbing poor Westley now? I wished that Professor Bongiorno had been a little more forthcoming with his instructions. At least he could have provided a sodding manual!
Vizzini, meanwhile, gave an evil laugh and stepped quickly to my side.
“Don't worry, I won't kill him; I want to see the look on his face when he realizes I've outsmarted him. You, on the other hand . . .”
I felt the prick of his knife against my ribs. “Me?” I squeaked.
“I am, as you know, a thief. What could be more valuable to a thief than a time-travel device?”
“But it's not a time-travel device!”
“Don't insult my intelligence,” he sneered. “Any last words?”
“Well, I did want to ask about true love . . .”
He cackled delightedly. “It doesn't exist! Or if it does, it's a sickness that robs men of reason and turns them into fools. The heart, my temporary temporal friend, is the weakest organ . . . as you are about to discover.”
And before I could say a word, I learned what it felt like to be stabbed through the heart by a very long, very sharp knife. Not surprisingly, it hurt. A lot.
* * *
5 . T H E S PANIARD
BUT NOT FOR long. Once again, I found myself back on my futon. I dropped the book and grabbed my side, but there was no blood, no wound. I was glad to be alive and unharmed, but otherwise I wasn't having a lot of sodding luck. I wondered who to interview next. Prince Humperdinck? Count Rugen, the six- fingered man? The former a sadist and murderer, the latter an even-worse sadist and murderer. The one with his fearsome Zoo of Death, the other with his pain-inflicting Machine. The hell with them both, I decided suddenly. They were evil men, like Vizzini. They, too, would try to kill me. And for all I knew, they might succeed. I picked up The Princess Bride, skipped ahead to chapter 8, and glanced down.
“Hello, my name is Inig– oof!” I went down hard, my arms and legs all tangled up with the arms and legs of Inigo Montoya. The swordsman was the first to recover.
He sprang to his feet, adopting the Fitzer Defense. Then, seeing I was helpless and unarmed, he extended his hand to me (the one not gripping that exquisite sword, the greatest since Excalibur) and pulled me up.
“Sorry about that,” I said, adjusting the sodding bifocals on my face.
“The fault was mine,” said Inigo. He would have been strikingly handsome if not for the twin scars disfiguring his face, one down each cheek. Yet those scars didn't make him ugly, either, because you could tell, just from his expression, that they were badges of honor. “Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a man to kill.”
That man–the six-fingered man–stood across the room, his back to a billiard table. He was, of course, frozen.
“That man is frozen,” Inigo observed.
I explained about the bifocals.
“Are you by any chance a friend of Miracle Max?” asked Inigo.
“Never mind about that,” I said. Count Rugen stood like a statue, one hand thrust out as if gesturing Inigo to a halt, the other concealed behind his back. I knew, as the Spaniard did not, what was in that hidden hand. Another piece of treachery from the man who had murdered Inigo's father and then contemptuously scarred him all those years ago. It was too much. Instead of asking about true love, I blurted out, “He's got a dagger!”
“As soon as I go back to my apartment and you forget all this, he's going to throw that dagger, and you–”
“Stop!” shouted Inigo, his eyes flashing passionately. “Not one word more! I understand that you mean well, my friend. You would spare me some calamity, perhaps even save my life. If I listened to you, I could disarm the Count or kill him now, and thus avoid my fate. And all it would cost me is my honor.”
“Did he show any honor when he killed your father? When he marked your face? Why show him any now?”
“Not for his sake,” Inigo said. “I feel only hate for Count Rugen. But hate is nothing. It wasn't hate that led me to become the greatest–or perhaps the second greatest–swordsman in the world. It wasn't hate that kept me searching for my father's killer all these years. It wasn't even hate that made me join Vizzini.” He placed a hand over his heart. “You see, I loved my father. And I will honor his memory now by fighting as he would have wanted me to fight.” He gave me the saddest, and also the bravest, smile I have ever seen. “No, my friend. For what you have tried to do, I thank you. But the son of Domingo Montoya will meet his fate like a man. I will avenge my father with his sword and my own hard-won skill. If they are not enough . . . Well, God never promised us that life was
fair, did He?”
“Not that I'm aware of,” I said softly, and took off the sodding bifocals.
* * *
6 . T H E M A N I N B L A C K
BACK ON MY futon, I knew it was time to talk to the man who had out-wrestled Fezzik, out-thought Vizzini, and out-fenced Inigo. But where to meet him? The choice was obvious, though it filled me with dread. I paged back to chapter 6 and glanced down. The Machine, like a shark, was a beautiful thing supremely fashioned for a single deadly purpose. Attached to it by a number of soft-rimmed cups of various sizes that clung to his skin like the mouths of a hundred remoras was the man in black. Of course, he wasn't in black anymore. He wasn't in anything at all. Except pain. He was in a heck of a lot of that. And the Machine hadn't even been turned on yet. At least, not today. But every cell in Westley's body was still screaming silently from the last time. That much was obvious just from looking at him.
“I don't suppose you've come to rescue me,” he said when he saw me. There was only the barest hint of discomfort in his voice.
“I'm afraid not,” I said.
“I didn't think so.” He sighed. “Who are you, and why is everyone else frozen?”
Everyone else was Count Rugen and Prince Humperdinck. The latter was frozen in the act of reaching for the pain dial of the Machine, but his furious expression left no doubt that he was going to crank it up as high as it could go the second he was unfrozen.
“You know what's funny?” asked Westley after I'd explained about the bifocals.
“No, what?” I didn't see anything particularly funny; in fact, I was feeling kind of sick to my stomach.
“Humperdinck is about to crank this obscene device up as high as it can go. I know it, you know it. The albino frozen back there in the shadows knows it. And you don't need the mind of a Vizzini to figure out what the result of that is likely to be.” At this point, he actually chuckled, and I began to understand that it wasn't only the name Dread Pirate Roberts that had commanded the loyalty of his pirate crew. “After all,” he said, “I didn't do so hot even when the Machine was at its lowest setting.”
“And that's funny?” I asked, wondering if the torture had driven him insane.
“No, not that. This: Just before you arrived, Humperdinck told me that Buttercup still loves me. He said it to torture me, to add to my pain in the seconds before he kills me. As if love, true love, can ever be a cause of pain. As if I could be so selfish as to mourn my own death rather than rejoice that my Buttercup lives. If he had said nothing, or had told me that they were married, or that she no longer loved me, or never had, then, even if I didn't believe him, it would have hurt. Then he would have succeeded in adding to my pain. But now? Now, whatever the pain, it won't be enough to extinguish my love. And though I die, and he lives, his pain, his loss, will be worse, I think. That's what I find funny.”
“But you'll still be dead,” I pointed out.
“I haven't come this far to let death stop me.”
I was astonished. “Do you think you can defeat death like you did Fezzik or Inigo?”
“I'm not crazy. I know I can't beat death. But love can. It does it all the time. Don't you know that?”
He looked at me then, and I felt his eyes pierce me as only the eyes of a man about to die can.
“Why, you've never been in love, have you?”
There was no use lying. “I don't know.”
“Believe me, you'd know.”
“I'm kind of between relationships . . .”
“I wouldn't,” said Westley, giving me a pitying look, “change places with you for the world.”
* * *
7 . T H E P R I N C E S S B R I D E
IT WAS NEARLY morning. I was exhausted. And I still had one more interview to go. I had a feeling it was going to be the toughest of all. I flipped to the end of the book and glanced down. I stood in the front rank of Humperdinck's Brute Squad. Dead ahead, frozen in the act of galloping out of the castle gate on four snow-white horses, were Inigo, Fezzik, Westley, and the loveliest woman I have ever laid eyes on. How lovely? Trust me, Shakespeare would have broken his quill in despair, and in case you haven't noticed, I'm no Shakespeare. But here's something you can try at home. Type the words “beautiful,” “sexy,” “perfection,” “goddess,” and “schwing” into your Internet search engine. Now hit the RETURN key. See the picture that pops up? Buttercup beats it cold. I would have stood there hypnotized forever if she hadn't spoken.
“Who are you? And why is everyone frozen?” Her voice was as incomparably beautiful as the rest of her. “What's the matter with you?” she demanded. “Can't you talk?”
“I-it's just that you're more beautiful than I imagined,” I croaked. “More beautiful even than Robin Wright.”
“Who's Robin Wright?”
“She plays you in the . . .” Right. Before movies, remember?
“What I mean is, great beauty can be intimidating.”
“Ha! It didn't intimidate Humperdinck.”
I gathered my wits and gave her the sodding explanation.
“I don't understand a word of it,” she said with a toss of her golden hair. “Are you sure you haven't come to kidnap me again, like that horrid Vizzini? He didn't find my beauty too intimidating, either.”
“I've come to interview you.”
She groaned. Beautifully. “Worse than a kidnapper: a reporter. Well, make it fast. Westley and I have a lot of happily ever aftering to get to.”
“What is it with you and Westley anyway?” I asked. “I mean, for someone who claims to love you so much, he's sure got a strange way of showing it.”
“There's nothing strange about it!” she exclaimed indignantly and proceeded to tick off on the fingers of one hand: “He saved me from Vizzini. He saved me from the Snow Sand. He saved me from the R.O.U.S.s. And just now, he saved me from Humperdinck.”
“I admit he did all those things. But he questioned your love for him repeatedly while doing them. He let you go on believing that he was dead. He insulted and belittled you at every turn. And he wasn't just verbally abusive–he was physically abusive, too. He struck you! I know this is before feminism and everything, but you've got to admit, he hasn't exactly been Prince Charming.”
“Well, that's the thing about love,” she said. “It's not always pretty. It's not always polite and noble and selfless. Sometimes it's ugly and jealous and resentful. Sometimes it's scary and hurtful. Nobody's perfect, you know. I'm certainly not, despite all this great beauty that I never asked for and which has all kinds of unpredictable and by no means always pleasant effects on the men I meet . . . and a lot of the women, too.”
“I'm not finished,” Buttercup interrupted imperiously; she'd obviously been paying attention in princess school. “I don't love Westley because he loves me. There are times I've wanted more than anything not to love him. But you see, it was never my choice. Love is like that. At least, true love is. And when you come right down to it, what's the point of any other kind?” “What's true love?” She didn't even hesitate. “True love is when you not only love the other person for who they are, with all their flaws and imperfections, and all their virtues, too, but for who they can be at their absolute best, and you're willing to do everything, even die, to help them reach that absolute best. True love means taking the biggest risk of all . . . opening your heart to a fellow human being, a creature as fallible as you know yourself to be, knowing that there are no promises in life, no guarantees, and that the future will bring great sorrows as well as great joys.”
“Wow,” I said. “But how do you know it's really true love?”
“You know,” she said. “Something tells you. With me, it was the way I felt when Countess Rugen looked at Westley. Maybe for you it will be the way you feel when a certain someone looks at you in a certain way. Or something in the sound of her voice. It could be anything. That's not important. What matters is what you do when it happens. Do you accept it and act on it, or do you ignore it, or try to deny it? Because true love isn't always convenient. Almost never, in fact. It comes at a bad time. Or with the wrong person. That's when you've got to find the courage to follow your heart, no matter what. Because the alternative is death. Living death, which is the worst kind. I know, because after I thought Westley had died, I tried to murder my own heart. And I very nearly succeeded.” She paused. “Why, you're crying . . .”
“Just something in my eye,” I said, and took off the sodding biofocals.
* * *
8. THE BEAUTIFUL DENISE
IT WA S E A R LY morning. I got off the futon and typed up what you're reading now. Normally, I e-mail my assignments to Denise. But not this time. All I could think about was her voice. Not Buttercup's. Denise's. How beautiful it was. And how I'd always known somehow that I loved her but had always found reasons not to take the risk. She was younger than me. And lived in Brooklyn, far from my Lower East Side haunts. Most of all, there was Freelancer Rule No. 11: Never date the source of reliable work. But you know what? Buttercup was right. And Westley. And Bongiorno, that sly old fox.
So I'm on my way to the offices of Ballantine Books to drop the interview off in person. When I get there, I'm going to ask Denise out for coffee. And tell her how I feel. Wish me luck. Better yet, wish me adventure–the biggest adventure of all:
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
The story is without peer. For folks who loved the movie, the extra texture and detail provided by the book is very rewarding. However, this ebook presentation is inexcusably poor. What am I talking about? Every other edition of the Princess Bride uses typography to distinguish Goldman's voice from Morgenstern's. This is important, because there are many interjections by Goldman. The first edition of the book used red type for Goldman's voice. Subsequent editions used italics. With the richness of an electronic screen available, what does this ebook do? Absolutely nothing is what it does. The book says "All abridging remarks and other comments will be in this fancy italic type so you'll know." It says this in exactly the same non-italic type of the rest of the book. Hopefully, being an electronic item, this error can be fixed, and existing copies will be updated. This makes it appear that in the production chain of an eBook, or this one anyway, there wasn't a single person who cared about the content of Princess Bride. This is our future! Please take better care.
This is a classic novel of adventure, romance, sword fighting, revenge, magic and very big rodents. Funnier than the film, and with better special effects. Goldman's radical editing of Morgenstern's epic will appeal to anyone with a love of adventure, but who read the unabridged versions of books such as Don Quixote and Moby Dick and found them boring beyond belief. All the good bits, indeed. And the format's been fixed - Goldman's comentary is now in italics.
Wow, where do I begin? Being a big fan of the movie and critical of adaptations, this book was as close to perfect as you could possibly get! I absolutely loved it! The movie stays very faithful to the book; and the book is purely awesome. The book even contained the aspect that the story was being read to a child by an adult. Goldman took it even a step further and created an entire storyline outside of the actual Princess Bride story. The whole idea of abridging the “original” story by Morgenstern was fictitious, but it had me believing it was the truth. It wasn’t until after finishing the book, I looked it up on the internet and found out it was fake; it was all part of the story. Very creative, I must say. Aside from that, the main story of The Princess Bride was exciting, funny, and touching. The characters were deep, witty, and likable. It contained a great balance of romance, action, suspense, and witty humor. If you enjoyed the movie, you’ll cherish the book. It gives greater detail and background to various characters not seen in the movie. This has undoubtedly become my favorite book by far. To think another story could outdo it is absolutely.... ....INCONCEIVABLE!!!
I have loved this movie and this book since I was very little. Imagine my surprise to find out that there never was an orignial version of this book. The Princess Bride is 100% William Goldman!! There never was a S. Morgenstern ( William Goldman fabricated him) so all the parts of interuption on the book where Goldman puts in his comments regarding the original story were all fabricated as well. It doesnt take away from the beauty of the story don't get me wrong, but He really had me going there for minute :-)
William Goldman has done a brilliant job with his abridgement, as anyone who struggled through the original S. Morgenstern will attest. He truly did leave in only the good parts, and they paint a vivid and engaging picture of Florinese culture that is not to be missed. S. Morgenstern was known for his in depth discussions of every day Florinese life, but this is of little interest to the common reader, and of little enough interest to those of us doing a doctoral dissertation on Florin and it's place in history. Mr. Goldman got it right, and brought this brilliant and historically accurate tale to the masses! I heartily recommend the book!
For anyone who has seen the movie and doesn't think they need to read the book, I say: you don't know what you're missing. Goldman's novel is a whirlwind of adventure, romance, and above all, snark. I first read The Princess Bride in elementary school and was completely snookered into believing that Goldman's introduction was true--and that he had indeed abridged a much longer version of the story. Now realizing my foolishness, I doubly appreciate the narrative voice he uses with such ingenuity. You feel as if you are interacting with his amazing cast of characters as well as the "author" battling it out with an "editor" behind the scenes, as well as a little boy from the intro who loved this tale when he was sick....no humdrum narrative here. There is enough different between the book and the movie that I love each unabashedly on their own terms. How could you not love an author who wrote a 50th anniversary fake introduction to his fake introduction about what it was like to make the movie...and how he scaled the Cliffs of Insanity with Andre the giant for research. Rascal.
This book is phenomenal. I saw the movie many times before actually reading the book. Needless to say this is one of the best books I have ever read. I highly recommend it to anyone.
Even if it is a kissing book.
One of the best books I have ever read! I loved the story and It kept me hooked. I skipped all of the parts that the author added about himself. If you are going to read this book I recommend you skip them to. Please click yes if this review helped! ;)
I found out about this book right after I saw the movie. If you saw the movie and even slightly liked it, trust me you will absoutly LOVE this book! The Princess Bride is worth reading no matter who you are. It is a classic tale that has to do with fencing, beasts, true love, and some miracles. I recommend this book to everyone I know! It has always been my favorite book to read. If you are feeling sad, read this book. If you are feeling happy, read this book. It is impossible to put down so make sure you have plently of time to read. (I would not start reading this book at night, you will be up to 6 'oclock in the morning reading.) Enjoy!
Hello my name is Inidgo montoya. You killed my father prepare to die- Inidgo Montoya this is my favorite quote ever. Five stars all the way
Grandson: Has it got any sports in it? Grandpa: Are you kidding? Fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, miracles... The Princess Bride has all that and more. It's a classic fairytale and is, by far, one of the greatest love/action/adventure/revenge stories you will ever read. That's saying a lot but it's a sure thing. I guarantee it. But for those of you who may scoff at the fantasy, bear with me because it's not all cupcakes and sunshine either. There's death and heartbreak and a, sort of, satirical edge making it equally as engaging as any David Sedaris or Neil Gaiman novel. Wit and whimsy. What more could you ask for? For this reason, there is a little something for everyone. What you are reading is a story within a story. It's a tale about the lasting effects that come from reading great books. It delivers a riveting tribute to the power and beauty of fairytales, even in an age where many consider them archaic and obsolete. This book delivers death-defying feats of love and heroism, and of course, one of the most satisfying acts of retribution ever written on a page. But it's more than that. There is substance here. At it's core, this book is about family, friendship and love (and not just that of Buttercup and Westley). The Princess Bride's real genius lies in how the story is told --- from Goldman's father to him and from him to his own son through the eyes of the fictional S. Morgenstern. And this is what makes it resonate to soundly for me. Of course, it's hard to talk about the book without so much as mentioning the film. The film is iconic. If I'm being completely honest, until very recently, I didn't even realize that the movie was based on a novel. I know, I know. For shame! Anyway, I very rarely enjoy a film as much as the novelization, however, this is one case where I can say that they are equals in every sense of the word. I think this is due in large part to Goldman's hand at writing both the book and screenplay. The storyline is left largely in tact as is much of the original dialogue, rendering it in my eyes, a whopping success. Do you know anyone who doesn't run around uttering "INCONCEIVABLE!"? I know I do. Or what about this little gem? "Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die." I mean, c'mon! Is there any other bit as repeated or loved as that? And maybe in some regard I do hold a bias because I saw the film first, but I can't imagine a better case of casting. I dare any of you to try and picture these lovable characters as people other than who played them on screen. Name one guy who didn't want to share a peanut with Fezzik or one girl who didn't want to swoon in the arms of the dear Wesley. Pure perfection. It is in my fair opinion that whether you choose to read the book or see the film, you are in for a magical treat. You'll be transported to a transcendent, magnificent world of folklore and believe me, it will stand the test of time. It is because of tales like The Princess Bride, that we're able to appreciate these little lessons and the stories that bring them to life. It makes you appreciate the magic of childhood and of true love and of the written word. It's about the power of stories and how they can irrevocably change us. In the end, you realize that anyone is capable of having a happily ever after and you will be left feeling profoundly satisfied. Inconceivable? Not even so.
For those who know the movie, I highly suggest this. It is truly an all time classic. This i must say is much less drawn on than the original, but still true to the original. Very funny and witty, romantic and it has amazing characters.
i had always loved this movie, and when i saw the book one day i decided that it would be fun to read. it was amazing. i love the plot, and how goldman interweaves anecdotes and "facts" about "morgenstern" with the plot of the princess bride. definitely read this
A truly unforgettable story. This is definitely one of my favorite books of all time and I would recommend it to anyone in sight. Goldman provides a fantastic and entertaining book with lovable characters that I couldn't put down ( besides the parts where he explains himself or talks about his wife or his son)... I actually borrowed this from a teacher and enjoyed it so much that I recently ordered it to read again. If you're a fan of the movie or just a bookworm all the way this is the book for you. And if you don't like it, well, that's just inconceivable!
I have the movie and it is amazing I also can what to read it. Every year I throw a movie party and I really what to do it if it is ok with them. Thank you
This is a pretty good read. I watched the movie first, so I knew what I was looking for. Some parts of the book are uffy and mive at a slower pace, but I still enjoyed it. ( I skipped some parts of the book. For example, all of the abbriviations). ~ Lola213
Dull in some parts but has every beat that made me fall in love with the movie.
Ok, I'm really confused. Does the book ever get to the actually story of The Princess Bride? Or is it just the author explaining how much he loves it? So confusing. Buyers beware.
The Princes Bride: A book to readReviewed by Harrison Parker12/6/2013The Princess Bride By William Golding, based on S. Morgenstern’s Classic Tale In William Goldman’s The Princess Bride, a classic tale about true love and adventure, the “good parts” of S. Morgenstern’s classic tale are retold. Goldman does a fantastic job with incorporating two separate stories into one novel. In the first story, Goldman tells of how he came upon the Princess Bride and how his father read it to him. The second story, obviously, was the good parts of The Princess Bride. Throughout the story of The Princess Bride, Goldman throws interjections into the story. These interjections can either be informative, or annoying. Goldman feels it to be important to explain what is clearly understandable in the text, and interrupts the story; kills the enchantment. The facts mentioned in these interventions would be useful for a history book perhaps, but not for a fantasy novel. From a historical point of view, this novel was not very accurate. Goldman then has to interject with an explanation of why they did not have this item in the time this book was set. The Princess Bride is a very stimulation story. Throughout the book, from a person who has trouble paying attention, the story kept me engaged. From Giants to R.O.U.S’s, Goldman gives a sense of magic in a normal world. From cover to cover, most everything had a purpose and everything fell into place. For example, the phrase “as you wish” seems nothing until it is used to reveal the man in black to Buttercup, and was a secret message. The man in black is what a child would call a superhero, based on his strength and intelligence. Goldman stays true to his theme throughout the novel, which is love conquers death. The fact that the characters are willing to die for each other proves his point. In my opinion, staying true with your theme separates a good piece of work and a bad piece of work. Goldman excels at it. The style of writing where one can definitely know exactly what is going on seems to me that Goldman wrote this with the intention of it becoming a movie. Instead of making the novel the best it can be, to me it felt like Goldman was optimizing the book for a movie. Most of the story was in the movie, the story didn’t need to be cut a lot to remain fit for a movie, and the movie achieved exceptional ratings. Although, based on how good the book was, I am not going to complain very much.
You killed my father. Prepare to die.
I have alwlays liked reading this book, and I am thrilled to have it digitally available. Although my fantasy was destroyed when I found out that there was no Morgenstern ... the book is still a timeless classic!
I loved the movie so i cant wait to read it its a love story but with pirates and fighting i always hear thet the book is always better but i donno its my favorite movie!
Awesome book. I love it soooooooooo much.