The Princess Bride: S. Morgenstern's Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure

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Overview


Once upon a time came a story so full of high adventure and true love that it became an instant classic and won the hearts of millions. Now in hardcover in America for the first time since 1973, this special edition of The Princess Bride is a true keepsake for devoted fans as well as those lucky enough to discover it for the first time. What reader can forget or resist such colorful characters as

Westley . . . handsome farm boy who risks ...
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The Princess Bride: S. Morgenstern's Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure

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Overview


Once upon a time came a story so full of high adventure and true love that it became an instant classic and won the hearts of millions. Now in hardcover in America for the first time since 1973, this special edition of The Princess Bride is a true keepsake for devoted fans as well as those lucky enough to discover it for the first time. What reader can forget or resist such colorful characters as

Westley . . . handsome farm boy who risks death and much, much worse for the woman he loves; Inigo . . . the Spanish swordsman who lives only to avenge his father's death; Fezzik . . . the Turk, the gentlest giant ever to have uprooted a tree with his bare hands; Vizzini . . . the evil Sicilian, with a mind so keen he's foiled by his own perfect logic; Prince Humperdinck . . . the eviler ruler of Guilder, who has an equally insatiable thirst for war and the beauteous Buttercup; Count Rugen . . . the evilest man of all, who thrives on the excruciating pain of others; Miracle Max. . . the King's ex-Miracle Man, who can raise the dead (kind of); The Dread Pirate Roberts . . . supreme looter and plunderer of the high seas; and, of course, Buttercup . . . the princess bride, the most perfect, beautiful woman in the history of the world.

S. Morgenstern's timeless tale—discovered and wonderfully abridged by William Goldman—pits country against country, good against evil, love against hate. From the Cliffs of Insanity through the Fire Swamp and down into the Zoo of Death, this incredible journey and brilliant tale is peppered with strange beasties monstrous and gentle, and memorable surprises both terrible and sublime.

With over one million copies in print, S. Morgenstern's classic fantasy, in the abridged "good parts" version by William Goldman, is a readers' favorite.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
Originally published in 1972, William Goldman's delightful, so-called "abridgement" of S. Morgenstern's classic swashbuckling tale of true love and epic adventure, The Princess Bride, has reached an enormous audience, thanks greatly to Rob Reiner's wonderful film version featuring Robin Wright, Mandy Patinkin, Billy Crystal, Andre the Giant, and William Goldman's sharp and vivacious screenplay. If you enjoyed the movie -- and I've never met a person who didn't -- you're certain to treasure this 25th-anniversary editon for many years to come. If you haven't yet delved into its enchanting pages, you'll find it utterly delightful, romantic, and entertaining read.

Because I saw "The Princess Bride" (many times now) well before I picked up Goldman's abridgement, I took it on with some reservation: How can anything possibly live up to that sharp and engaging movie? I was bucking for a serious letdown. Well, wasn't I surprised to discover that the film masterfully recreated the novel's brilliance? The sidesplitting humor, the appealing mood, and the romantic atmosphere are not unique to the film; these traits were lifted straight from Goldman's pages. Not only do I now have a deeper respect for Goldman's screenplay, but I have a fuller understanding of the fabulous characters that grace Reiner's film.

Remember Inigo Montoya -- the Spanish master swordsman whose life ambition is to find the evil six-fingered man who killed his father? Who can forget his famous line: "Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya, you killed father, prepare to die"? And Fezzik, the tenderhearted giant who -- although weak-minded -- is powerful in physical strength and loyalty. And of course, Westley and Buttercup who, as symbols of true love and unblemished perfection, must suffer greatly before they can be truly joined. While the movie does an excellent job familiarizing us with their individual stories, Goldman's novel grasps who these characters really are and how each ended up in common struggle. The novel adds a significant dimension to the story that -- believe it or not -- makes each character even more unforgettable.

Goldman's story is without a doubt a timeless classic. The sharp wit, snappy dialogue, and wonderful characters that engrossed us in the film spring to remarkable life in the novel. Experience the high adventure and the true love of The Princess Bride all over again.

--Andrew LeCount

Children's Literature
This 30th Anniversary Edition finds Buttercup and Westley in the same fate-tempting, true love-sparking predicaments that older readers remember from the classic 1973 novel and 1987 blockbuster film. Goldman introduces a brilliant cocktail of characters including the most beautiful woman in the world, the gentle giant, the avenging swordsman, the evil Sicilian, the torture-loving Count, and the King's ex-Miracle Man, to weave an adventure story made complete by its healthy portions of romance, wit, and heroism. The Princess Bride is a timeless fairy tale recreated in a family-oriented form that appeals to people of all ages and reading tastes. 2003 (orig. 1973), Random House Publishing Group, Ages 12 up.
— Stacey King
Los Angeles Times
One of the funniest, most original and deeply moving novels I have read in a long time.
From the Publisher
PRAISE FOR THE PRINCESS BRIDE
 
"[Goldman's] swashbuckling fable is nutball funny . . . A 'classic' medieval melodrama that sounds like all the Saturday serials you ever saw feverishly reworked by the Marx Brothers."—Newsweek
 
"One of the funniest, most original, and deeply moving novels I have read in a long time."—Los Angeles Times
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780156035217
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 10/8/2007
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 512
  • Sales rank: 19,159
  • Product dimensions: 4.30 (w) x 6.90 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

William Goldman

WILLIAM GOLDMAN has been writing books and movies for more than forty years. He has won two Academy Awards (for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and All the President's Men ), and three Lifetime Achievement Awards in screenwriting.

Biography

William Goldman, screenwriter, prior to Dreamcatcher, adapted the Stephen King books Hearts in Atlantis and Misery for Castle Rock Entertainment.

Goldman won Academy Awards® for his adaptation of the incisive political expose, All the President's Men, and for his original script, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Both screenplays also earned him Writers Guild Awards. Other honors include Lifetime Achievement Awards from the WGA and from the National Board of Review of Motion Pictures. Goldman has been an author for forty-five years.

Since his first novel, The Temple of Gold, he has written more than two dozen books, both fiction and nonfiction.

Author biography courtesy of Newmarket Press.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Harry Longbaugh (No Way to Treat a Lady) and S. Morgenstern (The Princess Bride and The Silent Gondoliers)
    2. Hometown:
      New York, New York
    1. Date of Birth:
      August 12, 1931
    2. Place of Birth:
      Chicago, Illinois
    1. Education:
      B.A., Oberlin College, 1952; M.A., Columbia University, 1956

Read an Excerpt

This is my favorite book in all the world, though I have never read it.

How is such a thing possible? I'll do my best to explain. As a child, I had simply no interest in books. I hated reading, I was very bad at it, and besides, how could you take the time to read when there were games that shrieked for playing? Basketball, baseball, marbles—I could never get enough. I wasn't even good at them, but give me a football and an empty playground and I could invent last-second triumphs that would bring tears to your eyes. School was torture. Miss Roginski, who was my teacher for the third through fifth grades, would have meeting after meeting with my mother. "I don't feel Billy is perhaps extending himself quite as much as he might." Or, "When we test him, Billy does really exceptionally well, considering his class standing." Or, most often, "I don't know, Mrs. Goldman: what are we going to do about Billy?"

What are we going to do about Billy? That was the phrase that haunted me those first ten years. I pretended not to care, but secretly I was petrified. Everyone and everything was passing me by. I had no real friends, no single person who shared an equal interest in all games. I seemed busy, busy, busy, but I suppose, if pressed, I might have admitted that, for all my frenzy, I was very much alone.

"What are we going to do about you, Billy?"

"I don't know, Miss Roginski."

"How could you have failed this reading test? I've heard you use every word with my own ears."

"I'm sorry, Miss Roginski. I must not have been thinking."

"You're always thinking, Billy. You just weren't thinking about the reading test."

I could onlynod.

"What was it this time?"

"I don't know. I can't remember."

"Was it Stanley Hack again?" (Stan Hack was the Cubs' third baseman for these and many other years. I saw him play once from a bleacher seat, and even at that distance he had the sweetest smile I had ever seen and to this day I swear he smiled at me several times. I just worshipped him. He could also hit a ton.)

"Bronko Nagurski. He's a football player. A great football player, and the paper last night said he might come back and play for the Bears again. He retired when I was little but if he came back and I could get someone to take me to a game, I could see him play and maybe if whoever took me also knew him, I could meet him after and maybe if he was hungry, I might let him have a sandwich I might have brought with me. I was trying to figure out what kind of sandwich Bronko Nagurski would like."

She just sagged at her desk. "You've got a wonderful imagination, Billy."

I don't know what I said. Probably "thank you" or something.

"I can't harness it, though," she went on. "Why is that?"

"I think it's that probably I need glasses and I don't read because the words are so fuzzy. That would explain why I'm all the time squinting. Maybe if I went to an eye doctor who could give me glasses I'd be the best reader in class and you wouldn't have to keep me after school so much."

She just pointed behind her. "Get to work cleaning the blackboards, Billy."

"Yes, ma'am." I was the best at cleaning blackboards.

"Do they look fuzzy?" Miss Roginski said after a while.

"Oh, no, I just made that up." I never squinted either. But she just seemed so whipped about it. She always did. This had been going on for three grades now.

"I'm just not getting through to you somehow."

"It's not your fault, Miss Roginski." (It wasn't. I just worshipped her too. She was all dumpy and fat but I used to wish she'd been my mother. I could never make that really come out right, unless she had been married to my father first, and then they'd gotten divorced and my father had married my mother, which was okay, because Miss Roginski had to work, so my father got custody of me—that all made sense. Only they never seemed to know each other, my dad and Miss Roginski. Whenever they'd meet, each year during the Christmas pageant when all the parents came, I'd watch the two of them like crazy, hoping for some kind of secret glimmer or look that could only mean, "Well, how are you, how's your life been going since our divorce?" but no soap. She wasn't my mother, she was just my teacher, and I was her own personal and growing disaster area.)

"You're going to be all right, Billy."

"I sure hope so, Miss Roginski."

"You're a late bloomer, that's all. Winston Churchill was a late bloomer and so are you."

I was about to ask her who he played for but there was something in her tone that made me know enough not to.

"And Einstein."

Him I also didn't know. Or what a late bloomer was either. But boy, did I ever want to be one.


When I was twenty-six, my first novel, The Temple of Gold, was published by Alfred A. Knopf. (Which is now part of Random House which is now part of R.C.A. which is just part of what's wrong with publishing in America today which is not part of this story.) Anyway, before publication, the publicity people at Knopf were talking to me, trying to figure what they could do to justify their salaries, and they asked who did I want to send advance copies to that might be an opinion maker, and I said I didn't know anybody like that and they said, "Think, everybody knows somebody," and so I got all excited because the idea just came to me and I said, "Okay, send a copy to Miss Roginski," which I figure was logical and terrific because if anybody made my opinions, she did. (She's all through The Temple of Gold, by the way, only I called her "Miss Patulski"—even then I was creative.)

"Who?" this publicity lady said.

"This old teacher of mine, you send her a copy and I'll sign it and maybe write a little—" I was really excited until this publicity guy interrupted with, "We were thinking of someone more on the national scene."

Very soft I said, "Miss Roginski, you just send her a copy, please, okay?"

"Yes," he said, "yes, by all means."

You remember how I didn't ask who Churchill played for because of her tone? I must have hit that same tone too just then. Anyway, something must have happened because he right away wrote her name down asking was it ski or sky.

"With the i," I told him, already hiking through the years, trying to get the inscription fantastic for her. You know, clever and modest and brilliant and perfect, like that.

"First name?"

That brought me back fast. I didn't know her first name. "Miss" was all I ever called her. I didn't know her address either. I didn't even know if she was alive or not. I hadn't been back to Chicago in ten years; I was an only child, both folks gone, who needed Chicago?

"Send it to Highland Park Grammar School," I said, and first what I thought I'd write was "For Miss Roginski, a rose from your late bloomer," but then I thought that was too conceited, so I decided "For Miss Roginski, a weed from your late bloomer," would be more humble. Too humble, I decided next, and that was it for bright ideas that day. I couldn't think of anything. Then I thought, What if she doesn't even remember me? Hundreds of students over the years, why should she? So finally in desperation I put, "For Miss Roginski from William Goldman—Billy you called me and you said I would be a late bloomer and this book is for you and I hope you like it. I was in your class for third, fourth and fifth grades, thank you very much. William Goldman."

The book came out and got bombed; I stayed in and did the same, adjusting. Not only did it not establish me as the freshest thing since Kit Marlowe, it also didn't get read by anybody. Not true. It got read by any number of people, all of whom I knew. I think it is safe to say, however, no strangers savored it. It was a grinding experience and I reacted as indicated above. So when Miss Roginski's note came—late—it got sent to Knopf and they took their time relaying it—I was really ready for a lift.

"Dear Mr. Goldman: Thank you for the book. I have not had time yet to read it, but I am sure it is a fine endeavor. I of course remember you. I remember all my students. Yours sincerely, Antonia Roginski."

What a crusher. She didn't remember me at all. I sat there holding the note, rocked. People don't remember me. Really. It's not any paranoid thing; I just have this habit of slipping through memories. It doesn't bother me all that much, except I guess that's a lie; it does. For some reason, I test very high on forgettability.

So when Miss Roginski sent me that note making her just like everyone else, I was glad she'd never gotten married, I'd never liked her anyway, she'd always been a rotten teacher, and it served her right her first name was Antonia.

"I didn't mean it," I said out loud right then. I was alone in my one-room job on Manhattan's glamorous West Side and talking to myself. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry," I went on. "You got to believe that, Miss Roginski."

What had happened, of course, was that I'd finally seen the postscript. It was on the back of the thank-you note and what it said was, "Idiot. Not even the immortal S. Morgenstern could feel more parental than I."

S. Morgenstern! The Princess Bride. She remembered!

Flashback.

1941. Autumn. I'm a little cranky because my radio won't get the football games. Northwestern is playing Notre Dame, it starts at one, and by one-thirty I can't get the game. Music, news, soap operas, everything, but not the biggie. I call for my mother. She comes. I tell her my radio's busted, I can't find Northwestern-Notre Dame. She says, you mean the football? Yes yes yes, I say. It's Friday, she says; I thought they played on Saturday.

Am I an idiot!

I lie back, listening to the soaps, and after a little I try finding it again, and my stupid radio will pick up every Chicago station except the one carrying the football game. I really holler now, and again my mother tears in. I'm gonna heave this radio right out the window, I say; it won't get it, it won't get it, I cannot make it get it. Get what? she says. The football game, I say; how dumb are you, the gaaaaame. Saturday, and watch your tongue, young man, she says—I already told you, it's Friday. She goes again.

Was there ever so ample a dunce?

Humiliated, I flick around on my trusty Zenith, trying to find the football game. It was so frustrating I was lying there sweating and my stomach felt crazy and I was pounding the top of the radio to make it work right and that was how they discovered I was delirious with pneumonia.

Pneumonia today is not what it once was, especially when I had it. Ten days or so in the hospital and then home for the long recuperating period. I guess it was three more weeks in bed, a month maybe. No energy, no games even. I just was this lump going through a strength-gathering time, period.

Which is how you have to think of me when I came upon The Princess Bride.

It was my first night home. Drained; still one sick cookie. My father came in, I thought to say good night. He sat on the end of my bed. "Chapter One. The Bride," he said.

It was then only I kind of looked up and saw he was holding a book. That alone was surprising. My father was next to illiterate. In English. He came from Florin (the setting of The Princess Bride) and there he had been no fool. He said once he would have ended up a lawyer, and maybe so. The facts are when he was sixteen he got a shot at coming to America, gambled on the land of opportunity and lost. There was never much here for him. He was not attractive to look upon, very short and from an early age bald, and he was ponderous at learning. Once he got a fact, it stayed, but the hours it took to pass into his cranium were not to be believed. His English always stayed ridiculously immigranty, and that didn't help him either. He met my mother on the boat over, got married later and, when he thought they could afford it, had me. He worked forever as the number-two chair in the least successful barbershop in Highland Park, Illinois. Toward the end, he used to doze all day in his chair. He went that way. He
was gone an hour before the number-one guy realized it; until then he just thought my father was having a good doze. Maybe he was. Maybe that's all any of this is. When they told me I was terribly upset, but I thought at the same time it was an almost Existence-Proving way for him to go.

Anyway, I said, "Huh? What? I didn't hear." I was so weak, so terribly tired.

"Chapter One. The Bride." He held up the book then. "I'm reading it to you for relax." He practically shoved the book in my face. "By S. Morgenstern. Great Florinese writer. The Princess Bride. He too came to America. S. Morgenstern. Dead now in New York. The English is his own. He spoke eight tongues." Here my father put down the book and held up all his fingers. "Eight. Once, in Florin City, I was in his caf&eacute." He shook his head now; he was always doing that, my father, shaking his head when he'd said it wrong. "Not his caf&eacute. He was in it, me too, the same time. I saw him. S. Morgenstern. He had head like this, that big," and he shaped his hands like a big balloon. "Great man in Florin City. Not so much in America."

"Has it got any sports in it?"

"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."

"Sounds okay," I said, and I kind of closed my eyes. "I'll do my best to stay awake ... but I'm awful sleepy, Daddy...."

Who can know when his world is going to change? Who can tell before it happens, that every prior experience, all the years, were a preparation for ... nothing. Picture this now: an all-but-illiterate old man struggling with an enemy tongue, an all-but-exhausted young boy fighting against sleep. And nothing between them but the words of another alien, painfully translated from native sounds to foreign. Who could suspect that in the morning a different child would wake? I remember, for myself, only trying to beat back fatigue. Even a week later I was not aware of what had begun that night, the doors that were slamming shut while others slid into the clear. Perhaps I should have at least known something, but maybe not; who can sense revelation in the wind?

What happened was just this: I got hooked on the story.

For the first time in my life, I became actively interested in a book. Me the sports fanatic, me the game freak, me the only ten-year-old in Illinois with a hate on for the alphabet wanted to know what happened next.

What became of beautiful Buttercup and poor Westley and Inigo, the greatest swordsman in the history of the world? And how really strong was Fezzik and were there limits to the cruelty of Vizzini, the devil Sicilian?

Each night my father read to me, chapter by chapter, always fighting to sound the words properly, to nail down the sense. And I lay there, eyes kind of closed, my body slowly beginning the long flow back to strength. It took, as I said, probably a month, and in that time he read The Princess Bride twice to me. Even when I was able to read myself, this book remained his. I would never have dreamed of opening it. I wanted his voice, his sounds. Later, years later even, sometimes I might say, "How about the duel on the cliff with Inigo and the man in black?" and my father would gruff and grumble and get the book and lick his thumb, turning pages till the mighty battle began. I loved that. Even today, that's how I summon back my father when the need arises. Slumped and squinting and halting over words, giving me Morgenstern's masterpiece as best he could. The Princess Bride belonged to my father.

Everything else was mine.

There wasn't an adventure story anywhere that was safe from me. "Come on," I would say to Miss Roginski when I was well again. "Stevenson, you keep saying Stevenson, I've finished Stevenson, who now?" and she would say, "Well, try Scott, see how you like him," so I tried old Sir Walter and I liked him well enough to butt through a half-dozen books in December (a lot of that was Christmas vacation when I didn't have to interrupt my reading for anything but now and then a little food). "Who else, who else?" "Cooper maybe," she'd say, so off I went into The Deerslayer and all the Leatherstocking stuff, and then on my own one day I stumbled onto Dumas and D'Artagnan and that got me through most of February, those guys. "You have become, before my very eyes, a novel-holic," Miss Roginski said. "Do you realize you are spending more time now reading than you used to spend on games? Do you know that your arithmetic grades are actually getting worse?" I never minded when she knocked me. We were alone in the sch
oolroom, and I was after her for somebody good to devour. She shook her head. "You're certainly blooming, Billy. Before my very eyes. I just don't know into what."

I just stood there and waited for her to tell me to read somebody.

"You're impossible, standing there waiting." She thought a second. "All right. Try Hugo. The Hunchback of Notre Dame."

"Hugo," I said. "Hunchback. Thank you," and I turned, ready to begin my sprint to the library. I heard her words sighed behind me as I moved.

"This can't last. It just can't last."

But it did.

And it has. I am as devoted to adventure now as then, and that's never going to stop. That first book of mine I mentioned, The Temple of Gold—do you know where the title comes from? From the movie "Gunga Din," which I've seen sixteen times and I still think is the greatest adventure movie ever ever ever made. (True story about "Gunga Din": when I got discharged from the Army, I made a vow never to go back on an Army post. No big deal, just a simple lifelong vow. Okay, now I'm home the day after I get out and I've got a buddy at Fort Sheridan nearby and I call to check in and he says, "Hey, guess what's on post tonight? 'Gunga Din.'" "We'll go," I said. "It's tricky," he said; "you're a civilian." Upshot: I got back into uniform the first night I was out and snuck onto an Army post to see that movie. Snuck back. A thief in the night. Heart pounding, the sweats, everything.) I'm addicted to action/adventure/call-it-what-you-will, in any way, shape, etc. I never missed an Alan Ladd picture, an Errol Flyn
n picture. I still don't miss John Wayne pictures.

My whole life really began with my father reading me the Morgenstern when I was ten. Fact: "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" is, no question, the most popular thing I've ever been connected with. When I die, if the Times gives me an obit, it's going to be because of Butch. Okay, now what's the scene everybody talks about, the single moment that stays fresh for you and me and the masses? Answer: the jump off the cliff. Well, when I wrote that, I remember thinking that those cliffs they were jumping off, those were the Cliffs of Insanity that everybody tries to climb in The Princess Bride. In my mind, when I wrote Butch, I was thinking back further into my mind, remembering my father reading the rope climb up the Cliffs of Insanity and the death that was lurking right behind.

That book was the single best thing that happened to me (sorry about that, Helen; Helen is my wife, the hot-shot child psychiatrist), and long before I was even married, I knew I was going to share it with my son. I knew I was going to have a son too. So when Jason was born (if he'd been a girl, he would have been Pamby; can you believe that, a woman child psychiatrist who would give her kids such names?)—anyway, when Jason was born, I made a mental note to buy him a copy of The Princess Bride for his tenth birthday.

After which I promptly forgot all about it.


From the Paperback edition.

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Table of Contents

Contents
~
 
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

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Interviews & Essays

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
gentle voice.
“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
so-so.”
“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.”
“None taken.”
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
inconceivable!”
“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!”
“What?”
“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.”
“But–”
“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:
true love.
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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?

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 858 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 13, 2010

    Fantastic story, inconceivably bad ebook presentation

    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.

    77 out of 87 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 7, 2011

    Formatting fixed on fabulous fairytale

    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.

    54 out of 56 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 24, 2011

    A rare case where the movie is MUCH better than the book

    All my life I have been one of those people who habitually asserts that the book version is always better than the movie version - or at least I was, until I read 'The Princess Bride.' I loved the movie, but I hated the book. The problem is that the author was unable to suppress the urge to inject his own ego throughout the narrative. And he's horribly sexist and full of himself. He keeps inserting pointless, uninteresting personal anecdotes, bragging about how he flirted with a Hollywood starlet in a swimming pool and making gratuitous, snarky critical remarks about his ex-wife. I was annoyed from beginning to end of this tiresome exercise in macho self-admiration and ended up wanting to smack him upside the head (and I am normally a very nonviolent person). Even when he gets around to the actual story and characters that we love, he describes Buttercup as a love object with no personality or will or agenda of her own, so that all his pontifications on the subject of 'true love' become meaningless. Save yourself a few bucks and go back and see the movie again!

    17 out of 43 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 25, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    S. Morgensterns Does Not Exist!!

    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 :-)

    15 out of 21 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 5, 2007

    Better than the original!

    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!

    15 out of 17 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 18, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    My Favorite Book!!

    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!!!

    12 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 2, 2011

    Excellent book

    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.

    8 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 30, 2012

    Absolutely worth reading

    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.

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 7, 2011

    I love the book as much as the movie

    Even if it is a kissing book.

    5 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 7, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Grandson: Has it got any sports in it? Grandpa: Are you kidding

    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.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 2, 2013

    YOUR FAV NERD :)

    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

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 16, 2012

    THE BEST BOOK EVER!!!

    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!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 19, 2012

    Wonderful!

    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.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 23, 2008

    I Also Recommend:

    amazing!

    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

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 6, 2014

    I Also Recommend:

    One of the best books I have ever read! I loved the story and It

    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! ;)

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 13, 2014

    Awesome!

    Super awesome!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 9, 2013

    The Princes Bride: A book to readReviewed by Harrison Parker12/6

    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.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 28, 2013

    My name is Inigo Montoya

    You killed my father. Prepare to die.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 26, 2013

    Long Time FAVORITE!!

    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!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 15, 2013

    Hi

    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!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 858 Customer Reviews

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