Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Princess Bride by William Goldman

The Princess Bride
William Goldman

This is not a review.

While this is the first time I've read the book, I've seen the movie far too many times to be objective. I could practically recite it along with the characters - I mean it. (Anybody want a peanut?) But if you're like me and you've seen the movie approximately seven thousand four hundred ninety-one times, this might help you (and me) put things in perspective.

First off, for those of you who are unaware of this very significant fact, William Goldman wrote both the book and the screenplay for the movie. Though there are a few things that are in the book but not the movie, they're naturally very similar. And therein lies the problem.

Remember two paragraphs ago when I mentioned the 7491 times I've seen this movie? Knowing the lines means I know how they sound as well as what the words are. I know what the scenes look like, how the actors portray their characters, and so on. But when I read the book, it all just sounds like my voice. It's terribly wrong somehow. All the actors in the movie are so very perfect for their roles that it feels like a crime to experience the story without their hallowed presence.

Not that it wasn't fun to read, but it was really weird. It's sort of the opposite problem I normally have; I usually think the books are cupcakes with awesomesauce and the movies are that crap you find on the floor of outdoor public bathrooms, but this time I felt lost without the movie.

There is one thing I wanted to mention about the book itself (unrelated to the movie). Goldman writes as though he's abridging another work, which had me rather confused for a while. (He's not.) The introduction was, oddly, also fiction, which added to the confusion. So keep that in mind if you ever pick this one up.

Fans of The Princess Bride, you should probably read this at some point just because. But prepare yourselves for a really strange experience.


  1. I read the book before I saw the movie, and I love both. The narrative of the book is odd though. I can't tell you how long I thought that the was an abridged version of some old forgotten fairy tale.

  2. I think you're right to conclude that your intense familiarity with the movie diminished the book's effect; I read it after seeing the movie one or two times, and LOVED it. I thought it was even funnier and more clever than the movie, and I enjoyed how gloriously confused I was about what was fact and what was fiction and who the heck was Morgenstern and WHAT IS REALITY?!?!?!?

    So yes, I appreciated the book immensely. I also, however, appreciate the movie immensely, and I can see how if you had the awesomeness of the movie burned into your mind, the book might have been less-than-fulfilling.


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