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The Princess Bride

The Princess Bride is a 1973 novel by William Goldman, combining elements of comedy, adventure, romance and fairy tale tropes. more...

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The book was made into a movie in 1987, directed by Rob Reiner from a screenplay by Goldman. The story is presented in the movie as a fairy tale being read by a grandfather (Peter Falk) to his sick grandson (Fred Savage), thus echoing the book's narrative style. The film stars Robin Wright and Cary Elwes. Mandy Patinkin, Wallace Shawn, Christopher Guest, Chris Sarandon and André the Giant play supporting roles. Billy Crystal, Carol Kane, Peter Cook, and Mel Smith have memorable cameo roles.

The movie was initially a modest success, though not a huge blockbuster, grossing twice its 15,000,000 USD production costs at the US box office. Over the years, however, it has gained a cult-like following, with occasional big-screen showings quite popular.

Note on the text

The book affects to be an abridgement of an older version by "S. Morgenstern", which was originally a satire of the excesses of European royalty. Goldman "remembered" the book as it was narrated to him by his father as an exciting adventure tale, without the complex political overtones. His work is a recreation of the abridgement of his father. The book, in fact, is entirely Goldman's work, and Morgenstern and his "original version" never existed. Nor is Goldman's family accurately described in the book. He has two daughters, not a son, and his wife is not a psychologist. The countries Florin and Guilder do not exist and never have, although, prior to the advent of the euro, both were units of currency – the same unit of currency, in fact – from The Netherlands and a common term for a 2 shilling piece in pre-decimal U.K. They remain legal currency in the Netherlands Antilles to this day. Goldman carried the joke further by publishing another book called The Silent Gondoliers (about why the gondoliers of Venice no longer sing to their passengers) under S. Morgenstern's byline. The Vizzini family from The Princess Bride also makes an appearance in this book.

The device of claiming that a book is a pre-existing work that the author merely discovered and edited is an old one, which continues to be used by authors as widely separated as Spanish writer Cervantes, Italian literary novelist Umberto Eco, British fantasy writer Mary Gentle, and American detective fiction author Laurie R. King. Another prime example is J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, which purports to be a translation of an ancient text called the Red Book of Westmarch. (See also false document, frame tale.)

The Princess Bride is considered an example of reconstructivist art.

Buttercup's Baby

The epilogue to some later editions of the novel mentions a sequel, Buttercup's Baby, that was having trouble getting published because of legal difficulties with S. Morgenstern's estate. This sequel seems to be just as fictional as S. Morgenstern's unabridged edition, though later editions actually reprint the sample chapter.


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