The Princess Bride
20th Anniversary Edition
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From celebrated director Rob Reiner (When Harry Met Sally) and Oscar-winning* screenwriter William Goldman (Chaplin) comes "an enchanting fantasy" (Time) filled with adventure, romance and plenty of "good-hearted fun" (Roger Ebert)! Featuring a spectacular cast that includes Robin Wright (Forrest Gump), Cary Elwes (Liar, Liar), Mandy Patinkin (Dick Tracy) and Billy Crystal (City Slickers), this wonderful fairy tale about a Princess named Buttercup and her beloved is "a real dream of a movie" (People)!
*1969: Original Screenplay, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
1976: Adapted Screenplay, All the President's Men
Screenwriter William Goldman's novel The Princess Bride earned its own loyal audience on the strength of its narrative voice and its gently satirical, hyperbolic spin on swashbuckled adventure that seemed almost purely literary. For all its derring-do and vivid over-the-top characters, the book's joy was dictated as much by the deadpan tone of its narrator and a winking acknowledgement of the clichés being sent up. Miraculously, director Rob Reiner and Goldman himself managed to visualize this romantic fable while keeping that external voice largely intact: using a storytelling framework, avuncular Grandpa (Peter Falk) gradually seduces his skeptical grandson (Fred Savage) into the absurd, irresistible melodrama of the title story. And what a story: a lowly stable boy, Westley (Cary Elwes), pledges his love to the beautiful Buttercup (Robin Wright), only to be abducted and reportedly killed by pirates while Buttercup is betrothed to the evil Prince Humperdinck. Even as Buttercup herself is kidnapped by a giant, a scheming criminal mastermind, and a master Spanish swordsman, a mysterious masked pirate (could it be Westley?) follows in pursuit. As they sail toward the Cliffs of Insanity... The wild and woolly arcs of the story, the sudden twists of fate, and, above all, the cartoon-scaled characters all work because of Goldman's very funny script, Reiner's confident direction, and a terrific cast. Elwes and Wright, both sporting their best English accents, juggle romantic fervor and physical slapstick effortlessly, while supporting roles boast Mandy Patinkin (the swordsman Inigo Montoya), Wallace Shawn (the incredulous schemer Vizzini), and Christopher Guest (evil Count Rugen) with brief but funny cameos from Billy Crystal, Carol Kane, and Peter Cook. --Sam Sutherland
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Stills from The Princess Bride (Click for larger image)
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I daresay the book has even more humor and more wit than the film adaptation. William Goldman's story telling is pure genius, writing from a satirical 1st person perspective of how he created an abridged version of an old non-fictional book from a fictional country written by a fictional author. As you read through the "abridged version" you will frequently stumble across familiar lines you've come to love from the film ("INCONCEIVABLE!") but with slight variations in certain parts (ex. a more detailed story of how Wesley and Buttercup fall in love on the farm), and often times even more brilliant substance added to classic scenes you already love (Prince Humperdink's Zoo of Death).
You also gain a better understanding of the film and why certain scenes play out the way that they do, such as why Inigo drunkenly yells out to Vizzini that he's going "back to the beginning" and the backstories to both Inigo and Fezzik beginning from childhood.
After reading the book you'll have a newfound appreciation for the movie which you'll see is a fantastic adaptation, and you'll have a fantastic time wrapped around Goldman's hilarious finger as he guides you through a truly wonderful story that feels exactly like the timeless classic we've enjoyed watching for years.
If you've never seen the movies, you'll like the book. If you've seen the movie a million times like I have, you'll LOVE the book. It's truly a must have for every Princess Bride fan. You won't be disappointed.
This is, by far, the nicest version of the book I've ever seen. No cheap anniversary text on the cover, like the 25th Anniversary Edition. Much more attractive than the foolishly short run of the Eastman (I believe) edition. I just missed that one and it shot up in price, nonsensically. A blessing in disguise. This one is far superior.
It's a nice, larger, book, with good size text and nicely spaced. The brown color of the book, with the gold accents really go well together. Add the rough cut of the page edges and it really comes across as an old fashioned classic. The illustrations are done nicely as well. I don't know if they could have done anything better.
If you're looking for a beautiful, classic looking edition of the book that is a good size to read and will look great on your bookshelf, this is the one. I tip my hat to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
I have no recollection of when I first read William Goldman’s beloved novel, but I can tell you that in the decades since, I’ve read the book and seen the film at least a dozen times. It is very high on my list of all-time favorites. I never grow tired of it. I can pick this book up and start reading on any page and get sucked in immediately. And as soon as I’ve finished it, I could easily start reading from page one all over again. It is a case of true love.
Now, you have to have been living under a rock for the past few decades not to have an idea of what this tale is about. It’s the story of the beautiful milkmaid Buttercup and her love for the dashing farm boy Westley and all they go through in order to be together. Additionally, the novel uses the author’s life as a framing device. In what is purported to be a series of forwards and abridger’s notes, Goldman reflects on his personal history with “S. Morgenstern’s Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure.” He speaks candidly (and entirely fictitiously) of his family life, and perhaps somewhat less fictitiously of his professional life. And he tells the story of how his father first read him the tale when he was ten years old. When he asked if there were any sports in the book, the man replied:
“Fencing. Fighting. Torture. Poison. True love. Hate. Revenge. Giants. Hunters. Bad men. Good men. Beautiful ladies. Snakes. Spiders. Beasts of all natures and descriptions. Pain. Death. Brave men. Coward men. Strongest men. Chases. Escapes. Lies. Truths. Passion. Miracles.”
I ask you, what more could a reader possibly want?
The one thing Goldman forgot to list is humor. What has made this tale such a classic, in addition to the fact that it contains one of the five greatest kisses of all time, is the novel’s adroit humor. It ranges from sophisticated to glib to farcical, and it never fails to make me smile. Because of the brilliant film adaptation (also written by Goldman), many of the novel’s lines and passages have become cultural touchstones. Have you ever cried, “Inconceivable!” in a Wally Shawn lisp? Mandy Patinkin doesn’t go a day without someone coming up to him and proclaiming, “My name is Inigo Montoya, you killed my father, prepare to die!” Does the phrase “As you wish.” just give you chills? These characters are indelible, and Mr. Goldman’s humor has held up for 40 years. I believe people still be chuckling over this novel a hundred years from now. Shakespeare, Jane Austen, P.G. Wodehouse—some humor is simply timeless.
Clearly, I love a feel-good story, but most suffer from diminishing returns. Maybe it was awesome the first time you read it, pretty good the second, and less so on successive reads. Not so, The Princess Bride. If anything, I think my considerable affection for this novel grows with each successive reading. And I’m still spotting new things! On this read, for the first time, I spotted the fake blurbs at the front of the Kindle edition. (One was from “Shog Bongiorno, professor emeritus, Mid-European Literature, Columbia University,” LOL.)
Twenty-fifth and thirtieth anniversary editions of The Princess Bride have contained new forwards that continue the story that Goldman uses as the novel’s framing device. And after the novel’s end, there is a lengthy introduction to a substantial sample of the novel’s fictitious sequel, Buttercup’s Baby. I’ve read it all except for Buttercup’s Baby. I can only read that for the first time once, and I’m just not ready to experience it yet. Besides, maybe one day Mr. Goldman will elbow out Stephen King for the job and will finish the abridgement of the sequel. Hope springs eternal. And isn’t that the nature of true love?