I may be one of the only people in the world who had grew up without seeing the film The Princess Bride. I finally saw it January this year - at the ripe old age of twenty-two - after being completely blown away by this book. My childhood was also void of Labyrinth which I finally saw and fell in love with in my late teens, and Dark Crystal which I am still yet to watch. I can only guess that my parents wanted to avoid a repeat of my obsession with The Neverending Story films which we constantly had rented out from the video shop when I was a child. The point is that I was able to pick up the book The Princess Bride with absolutely no idea what I was in for.
So, what is it that readers are in for that make both book and film be recalled with such fondness by so many?
"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. Passions. Miracles." The Princess Bride promises all these things and delivers all of it and so much more. The beautiful Buttercup falls in love with the farm boy Westley. He sails away to earn a fortune upon which to build their future together only to fall prey to the Dread Pirate Roberts. A devastated Buttercup vows to never love again yet manages to find herself marrying the Prince Humperdinck. The princess-to-be is kidnapped and from there the adventure is only beginning.
Goldman interlaces the tale of how he was introduced to "S. Morgenstern's classic tale of true love and high adventure" as a child, rediscovering it in later life, and the obstacles met in abridging the "good parts", publishing it, and getting the movie made. (I should mention that I read the 25th anniversary edition.)
Only the entire autobiographical narrative is fiction too. Most importantly, there is no S. Morgenstern who wrote the original Florin classic. There is no original Florin classic. Goldman is the genuine author of The Princess Bride and he uses this fictional autobiography to help underline the wit and parody of the core story and exploration of fantasy tropes but, perhaps most importantly, to help us to believe what we all want to be true - that at some ambiguous point in time in some hard-to-pin-point-on-a-map country the events of The Princess Bride really did occur.
If, as I was, you are still living life without the joy of The Princess Bride then go to your local book shop right now and get it. You will fall in love with these characters, laugh, cry, and undoubtedly begin introducing yourself with the line "Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya; you killed my father; prepare to die."