Search Menu

The Princess Bride

William Goldman

Contents

Themes

Themes

The pretension of the literary world versus the hedonism of pleasure reading

By making so many references to his editor and publishers, William Goldman demonstrates the sheer politics and structure of the literary industry, and he manages to set himself apart from it by illustrating his own bumbling faux pas in the industry, and his own buoyant enthusiasm to republish The Princess Bride. In his good parts edition, Goldman makes a point to cut what bores him, leave what entertains him, and create what is lacking. He takes full liberty with the text, and all throughout, he encourages us to do the same. By setting himself as the editor, not the author, he is able to show us what an impact this story made on him as a child, and through retelling it the way he heard it, he emphasizes reading as an invitation to make your own world out of a text, never drawing lines between what is real or not, what happened or did not happen. Goldman's style and tone is in direct opposition to the structure and seriousness of the industry of which he is a part.

The arbitrariness of time, history, and love

The Princess Bride is a story of fantasy, therefore all stories of fantasy require a certain suspension of belief. William Goldman addresses these ideas about fantasy and mocks it, giving strange and parodied reasons for events, entering into the text to assure us that something bad will not (or will) happen. He measures time by arbitrary inventions, once again avoiding the notion of "once upon an unmeasured time." He defies the standards of simple characters or a simple ending, but he still involves super-human strength, miracles, and love that can overcome death. The tendency of his characters to speak too much, rather than in clipped noble phrases, as well as his own tendency to enter into the text perhaps too much, lends very little mystery to the story. We know the characters' backgrounds, awkward phases, and motivations, as so we cannot reduce any of them, nor the text itself, to the simplicity of ordinary fantasy.

More main ideas from The Princess Bride

More Help

Previous Next