This week’s book is “The Princess Bride” by William Goldman.
This book is really two stories in one. There’s the purported abridgement of “S. Morgenstern‘s classic tale of true love and high adventure” in which Buttercup, the most beautiful woman in the world, thinking her true love Westley is dead, agrees to marry Prince Humperdinck, who plots to kill her and frame another country in order to start a war. Then there’s the book’s effect on the life of the narrator, a fictionalized version of the author.
Got all that? Good.
The first word that pops into my mind when I think of the Princess Bride is “clever.” Everything about it is just so brilliant: the writing, the conversational asides, the characters, even the fictitious events in Goldman’s life. It’s all fantastically creative and original. Another thing that struck me is the fact that this book was written quite a few years before I was born, and yet continues to be entertaining. The tone is so modern, so relevant, that the story still feels fresh after almost forty years and countless reads.
If I had to pick my least favorite character, it would be Buttercup. I know. I know. She’s the most beautiful woman in the world. But she also happens to be brainless, cowardly, faithless, and to be brutally honest, useless. All she does is stand around and wait for her beloved Westley. I don’t know if Goldman meant her to be a satirical version of every other fairy tale princess, but I do know that she annoys the hell out of me.
Despite the useless Buttercup, I’ve read this book half a dozen times and I’ll probably read it a dozen more, if only to relive the thrilling duel at the Cliffs of Insanity.
Bottom line, this is still one of my favorite books.
OK, that one might be a bit obvious, so here is my second favorite line. “There are no words to contain all my wisdom. I am so cunning, crafty and clever, so filled with deceit, guile and chicanery, such a knave, so shrewd, cagey as well as calculating, as diabolical as I am vulpine, as tricky as I am untrustworthy…let me put it this way: the world is several million years old and several billion people have at one time or another trod upon it, but I, Vizzini the Sicilian, am, speaking with pure candor and modesty, the slickest, sleekest, sliest and wiliest fellow who has yet come down the pike.”
What I learned: Freshness and creativity can conquer time. Like I said before, I’ve read this book many times, and I enjoy it every single time, probably because I haven’t come across anything like it before or since.