Cold Iron & Rowan-Wood

August 6, 2009

The Princess Bride

Filed under: rereading — Tags: , , , — Sam @ 8:07 pm

A couple of weekends back, I was in a readthrough of the film script (playing the grandfather & narrator – probably one of my favourite characters[1], though next time someone arranges one of these I’ll be asking for Inigo) and, of course, prepared for it by reading the book. Well, most of the book; the first 30 pages are a rather tedious, maundering fact-and-fiction introduction by Goldman, to the point that I’m surprised it’s only 30. I remembered it as a hundred or so.

The book is billed as the “Good Parts version” of “S. Morgenstern’s original”, and Goldman’s scattered the text with abridger’s notes – brief descriptions of what was in the original that he didn’t include. The thing is, I want to read the original! I want the fifty-six pages of packing and unpacking scenes in Chapter 3, the forty-four pages of parties at the beginning of Chapter 6, Inigo’s six-page soliloquy on the anguish of fleeting glory, Inigo and Fezzik’s search for ingredients for the resurrection pill… and I don’t want Goldman’s interjections about what he did to the “original” text, because the author’s voice here is fundamentally unlikeable.

In theory, it’s an interesting take on the messy-unreliable-multiply-redacted-text through which actual history comes to us; but framing it as All About The Authors (real and fictional) is just precious and self-indulgent. For a far better example of this sort of framing story, I recommend Steven Brust’s The Phoenix Guards, written in the style of Dumas pére by an in-universe historian, one Paarfi of Roundwood, and without anyone else’s voice intruding until the “interview with the author” section at the end.

[1] “Are you kidding? Fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, miracles…”

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