Most Millennials and elder GenZers remember sitting in front of the TV at 8/7 Central to watch The Princess Bride movie starring Wallace Shawn as Vizzini and Mandy Patinkin as Inigo Montoya to note a couple. But what many might not know is that the movie that is so near and dear to our hearts actually started off as a book written by William Goldman and titled The Princess Bride: S. Morgenstern’s Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure. And today is this book’s publication date anniversary!
Published in 1973, the novel The Princess Bride is a fantasy romance fairy tale that combines many elements of comedy. However, the interesting part (and confusing to those of us who watched the movie first and then read the book) is that it is presented as an abridgment of a longer piece by the fictional author S. Morgenstern, and includes Goldman’s commentary throughout.
The confusing part is that if you didn’t do any research on the book and movie before picking it up at your local library or bookstore, you expect the same setup from the movie with the grandfather reading the book to his sick grandson. However, it actually starts with an excerpt of Goldman’s childhood and then moves into the story itself which is then constantly interrupted (like Max does in the movie, and me now I might add) by Goldman’s commentary in Italics which adds the comedy to the story. It’s genius, and if you’re as oblivious as I was when I first read this book, you might go off searching for the original book. It’s safe enough to say that it doesn’t exist.
According to Goldman, the novel written by S. Morgenstern is boring and terribly descriptive (and from the side commentary it felt, to me, that Godman wanted it to seem like he did some sort of Tolkien-styled world-building, with pages and pages of descriptions) which is why this “version” is abridged and Goldman tells the reader exactly what pages he removed and why. Such as this hilarious exerpt:
What happens is just this: Queen Bella packs most of her wardrobe (11 pages) and travels to Guilder (2 pages). In Guilder she unpacks (5 pages), then tenders the invitation to Princess Noreena (1 page). Princess Noreena accepts (1 page). Then Princess Noreena packs all her clothes and hats (23 pages) and, together, the Princess and the
Queen travel back to Florin for the annual celebration of the founding of Florin City (1 page). They reach King Lotharon’s castle, where Princess Noreena is shown her quarters (1/2 page) and unpacks all the same clothes and hats we’ve just seen her pack one and a half pages before (12 pages).
Despite the mild confusion of shifting from movie to book, the beauty of this story is that it’s timeless. It has all the elements of a fairy tale that was passed down for generations before reaching us in written format even though it was only published just short of 50 years ago. So if you haven’t already read this book, you should add it to your TBR soon.
Happy publication anniversary The Princess Bride!