Monday, June 7, 2010

The Princess Bride

The film version of The Princess Bride feels like a huge cultural institution to me, despite the fact that I've only seen it about one and a half times. Everybody knows, "Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die." Somehow the book is a bit less of an institution. Possibly this is because, at least for me, the movie is more satisfying.

The book operates on an oddly contrived pretense, that William Goldman is abridging a much longer work by a fellow named Simon Morgenstern, who comes from the country of Florin, in which the book is set, which of course does not exist. This has me thinking back to all my experimental theatre last fall, when I spent a lot of time considering the layers involved in stories. The movie, of course, opens with a sick kid in bed whose grandfather reads him the story, and once in a while they show up again when the kid objects to some part of the story. In the book, this sick kid in bed is in the past, being William Goldman, first introduced to the story in this way, and coming back years later to do the abridgment. His asides are often about the dull parts of the novel he has supposedly cut out, and he's created an entire story about his wife Helen and his son Jason, and trying to get Jason to read the book, and about legal troubles with S. Morgenstern's estate. It's an unusual storytelling device, and somewhat distracting, but it's often entertaining. It also allows Goldman to blame plot difficulties and unpleasant moments on S. Morgenstern. The ending of the book is a little sudden, and not very conclusive, and Goldman blames that on Morgenstern.

I've had the book for years, for unknown reasons, and I sort of wish I'd read it sooner. I did try, I just thought Buttercup was the stupidest name for a heroine ever, and couldn't get past that. I had very strong opinions about names and words in my younger days, I guess. I sort of still do; Buttercup just stopped bothering me. Anyway, it's a book thoroughly worth reading, since it is a "classic tale of true love and high adventure", and everyone can use more of that in their life.

No comments:


Related Posts with Thumbnails