Writers hope and pray to have their stories linger on with their readers but it’s truly rare to have their dialogue quoted 30 years after publication. But that is exactly what happened with William Goldman’s the Princess Bride. Here are some of the most popular dialogue to bring forth some warm nostalgia…
Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.
Have fun stormin' da castle.
In December 2014, over a thousand people, including myself, crammed into a local bookstore (Powell's in Beaverton, OR) for the chance to hear Cary Elwes, aka Wesley, say those three little words… As You Wish. The evening was worth the slight claustrophobia and blocked view from being tucked away in a crowded book aisle to experience Cary promoting his book, As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride. As I waited for hours to get Cary’s signature, I found myself surrounded by so many people who grew up with the Princess Bride, and wondering why the story still affects us.
The format of the story is unique. During the telling of a classic fairytale, the story is constantly interrupted by the narrator. In the novel, the narrator is a fictional version of the author himself talking about why he abridged certain sections of the book. In the movie, a grandfather reads the story to his sick grandson, in the hopes of cheering him up but the grandson urges him to skip the kissing scenes in favor for more swashbuckling.
I thought this way of storytelling worked out great in the movie but was far too disruptive in the novel. I vividly remember trying to read the book as a child and thinking that I would be willing to read 12 pages about packing clothes if that writer would just stop talking during my story. I even asked my mother to get me the unabridged version and she had a tough time trying to explain to a twelve-year-old that this was just a literacy device. Eventually his constant commentary kept pulling me out of the story so I put the book down and popped in my VHS. Instant happiness!
For this column, I decided that I was going read the book again. This time I made it through but I wanted to stop on page 182 when I read the line: He slapped her. My heart just sank when I read that passage for two reasons.
First, the origins of this story is that the author asked his daughters what he should write about and one said Princesses while the other said Brides. So it was painful to know that as their father he created a story where their hero would hit a woman. I realize that since the story also includes Rodents of Unusual Size and the life sucking invention called the “Machine” clearly this story is not intended for small children but I’m still bummed that the author chose to cross that line.
Second, for a certain generation (mine), Wesley holds a special place in women’s hearts and perhaps is the reason for some of my unrealistic expectations about men. He checks off many romance novel troupe checkboxes; rags to riches; rescuing the damsel in distress; the faithful lone hero, etc. Having to add an asterisk to a hero’s name with a side note that he hit the woman he loved is not my definition of a hero.
So for that one single line in the novel, I would argue that Princess Bride is better as a movie. However, the author has sworn that he will publish the book’s sequel, Buttercup's Baby, by 2023, which will be the 50th anniversary of the novel’s publication. I can’t imagine the pressure he is under to write this sequel. When asked during the 30th anniversary publicity tour, he shared his lack of progress on the novel. I can only see one bright spot to his writer’s block. 1973 attitudes towards women won’t be tolerated and Waverly, Buttercup and Wesley’s baby, could be the next generation’s equivalent to Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Fingers crossed.
William Goldman's modern fantasy classic is a simple, exceptional story about quests—for riches, revenge, power, and, of course, true love—that's thrilling and timeless.
Anyone who lived through the 1980s may find it impossible—inconceivable, even—to equate The Princess Bride with anything other than the sweet, celluloid romance of Westley and Buttercup, but the film is only a fraction of the ingenious storytelling you'll find in these pages. Rich in character and satire, the novel is set in 1941 and framed cleverly as an “abridged” retelling of a centuries-old tale set in the fabled country of Florin that's home to “Beasts of all natures and descriptions. Pain. Death. Brave men. Coward men. Strongest men. Chases. Escapes. Lies. Truths. Passions.”
I’m thrilled that 79% of last month column voters agreed with me about enjoying the movie version best, while 21% loved the movie and book equally.
NEXT MONTH: THE MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE
Thank you for your feedback and I hope to hear from you all about next month’s comparison of the Man in the High Castle, a famous Sci-Fi novel by Phillip K Dick, which is coming back into popularity as an exciting new Amazon Prime television series.
As an added bonus, I will also include highlights from the San Diego Comic Con screening of the pilot and first episode at the San Diego Civic Center with a Very Limited special media file given to lucky attendees.
Which Man in the High Castle version do you like best?
The TV Series - The pilot was unbelievably awesome.
The Novel – I didn’t even know they made it into a TV show.
Both – I hope the TV show stays true to my beloved novel.
Neither - Never heard of the Man in the High Castle.
Columnist: Jessie lives in Oregon and writes to avoid the rain. She only feels compelled to kill her characters when she starts a new diet and if she hates the ending of a TV episode she’ll rewrite it to give everyone a happily ever after. Currently Jessie is an unpublished author but she works tirelessly to removed two letters – un – from that word.
Column book and movie tape drawn by Evangeline Owen