woensdag 11 mei 2016

"The Princess Bride" by William Goldman

"'Don't pester him with so many questions,' Fezzik said. 'Take it easy; he's been dead.'"

I distinctly remember watching the movie "The Princess Bride" an eternity ago and loving it to bits. So it was a no-brainer that I'd buy the original novel when I came across it on a shopping spree in Brussels a while ago. Author William Goldman presents this novel as an abbreviation of his favourite book (which, incidentally, he has never read) by one S. Morgenstein, with all the boring parts cut out. Of course, the story is all Goldman's - the introduction about his history with the book, the anecdotes about his wife and son, ... they're all made up, but they make for a refreshing point of view. The introduction and his short intrusions in the story are as funny as the main story is.

In a distant past, in a small, forgotten country, the extremely beautiful (if not too bright) milkmaid Buttercup falls in love with farm boy Westley. When Westley decides to leave the farm to find fortune elsewhere, and subsequently is captured and reportedly killed by the Dread Pirate Roberts, Buttercup is heartbroken. She vows never to fall in love again and even agrees to a loveless marriage with Prince Humperdinck, who is desperately seeking a wife to produce an heir. But shortly before the marriage, Buttercup is abducted by an odd group (including a hunchback, a giant and a Spanish fencer), only to be rescued by the mysterious masked Man in Black. This is only the beginning of an incredible tale, in which the main characters will have to overcome the most dangerous challenges - even death itself.

Well, let me start by saying that I loved this novel as much (if not more) than the movie. This book has got it all: a dashing young hero, the most beautiful woman in the world, True Love, pirates, a vengeful prince, chases and sword fights, deadly swamps and cliffs, poisonous snakes and spiders and other scary animals in the Zoo of Death, a terrifying torture device,... Oh, and there's this giant, who is obsessed by rhymes. Difficult to categorise the novel, but it's best to describe it as a modern fairy tale for grown-ups, which is just incredibly funny and exciting. Clearly influenced by the Errol Flynn-type of swashbuckling movies (Robin Hood, The Sea Hawk, etc.) with a cast of the most unforgettable characters, and served with a sauce of very witty and clever language.

Definitely a recommend novel, if ever there was one. Now, let's track down a dvd of the movie...

Title: The Princess Bride
Author: William Goldman
Publisher: Bloomsbury, London
Year: 2008 (orig. 1973)
Number of pages: 319 p.
ISBN: 9780747590583

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