Masterplots II: Juvenile & Young Adult Literature Series The Princess Bride Analysis
William Goldman subtitles his novel S. Morgenstern’s Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure: The “Good Parts” Version, claiming himself merely the abridger of an earlier, lengthier satire by Simon Morgenstern. The first thirty pages explain that Goldman chose to abridge the story so that his ten-year-old son would enjoy it. Yet, this “introduction” merely disguises, and does not apologize for, Goldman’s desire to spin a fun, fast-paced adventure. As the characters’ names alone indicate, the work is also a parody of conventional European fairy tales.
What makes the novel unusually amusing is Goldman’s constant interruption and annotation of the tale. The “introduction” portrays Goldman’s (fictional) unpleasant wife and son, his beloved father, and his editors, and, throughout the novel, he inserts parenthetical remarks about them and their reactions to the story. “Morgenstern” includes his own parenthetical remarks, which are hilariously self-contradictory—for example, that the story occurs before Europe but after Paris, before the concept of glamour but after the invention of blue jeans. Goldman’s comments occur in italic type and accompany typographical jokes such as a “SPLAT” that takes up half a page.
The result may leave unsophisticated readers confused about how much is serious “editorial commentary” and how much merely pranksterism. Goldman’s most notable gag, which fooled many readers, consists of a complaint that Morgenstern does not depict the...
(The entire section is 627 words.)