How I Was April Fooled by The Princess Bride

April 14, 2014 Fairy Tales, Fantasy 55

Hey there, Bookworms!

I am typically a curmudgeon about books that become movies. I am often underwhelmed and find myself keeping score of what they changed to adapt the book to the screen and why Hollywood was wrong for doing it. Things were all kinds of different for me when it came to The Princess Bride. I have seen the movie about a zillion times, starting when I was a kid. I didn’t realize it was adapted from a book until waaaaay after I’d perfected my “INCONCEIVABLE!” I was curious, though, so I decided I’d tackle the book version, formally titled The Princess Bride: An Illustrated Edition of S. Morgenstern’s Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure by William Goldman. (It’s quite a mouthful.)

I’ve mentioned that I’m pretty gullible, right? If Goldman had been playing an April Fool’s prank with this book, I’d totally have fallen for it. Goldman begins the book by saying that he isn’t writing the story, but abridging a classic work of literature his father read to him while he was recovering from pneumonia as a child. He claimed his father was a Florinese immigrant, that the tales within the book were at least partially true (if not a bit embellished, as such tales often are), and that he was merely paraphrasing another’s work. I THOUGHT that Florin and Guilder sounded like fake countries, but my knowledge of Europe is not infallible. They could very well have been countries at one point once upon a time and then been swallowed up. I mean, Poland lost its “I’m a country” status plenty of times throughout history, the poor dear.

Despite my innate gullibility, it wasn’t long before my BS meter started pinging, and I turned to Wikipedia. Not only is there no original work by S. Morgenstern, there’s no Florin or Guilder (they sound familiar because they used to be currency.) Heck, even the wife and son Goldman claims to have are fictional. The Princess Bride was actually inspired by stories Goldman used to tell his daughters, and he masterminded the whole thing, fake countries and all. Well played, Goldman.

I deserve the mocking. (Source)

I deserve the mocking. (Source)

After I stopped feeling like a nincompoop, I settled in to enjoy the story. The bulk of the action plays out very similarly to the movie- it’s a pretty faithful adaptation. The Grandfather and Fred Savage bits are indeed quite different, but it still totally works. Fabulous example of book to movie done right, if you ask me. If you haven’t seen The Princess Bride or read the book, you should probably stop what you’re doing right now and go do one or the other. How does one go through life without these critical cultural references? I mean, there’s FEZZIK, the coolest soft-hearted giant ever! (The coolest soft-hearted half-giant is, of course, Hagrid.) Evil Humperdink and the 6 fingered Count Rugen. Miracle friggin MAX! Westley and Buttercup and their grand romance… “As you wish…” Siiiiigh. And of course, there’s this:

inigomontoya

REVENGE! (source)

Just read it. Or watch it. Okay? If you need MORE reasons, check out Trish from Love, Laughter, and a Touch of Insanity and her fabulous post (and more GIF-y goodness) 10 Life Lessons from The Princess Bride.

I know a ton of you Bookworms have seen and/or read The Princess Bride. Tell me your favorite moments! 

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission. You would NOT be committing a blunder to do so, though I don’t recommend getting into a land war in Asia.*

55 Responses to “How I Was April Fooled by The Princess Bride”

  1. Isi

    Ohhh how I loved this book!!!
    Like you, I had no idea there was a book, but I had watched the film lots of times. But darling, the book is long way better. I mean, you have watched the film and you have no idea about “the other part”, the part in which Goldman is rewriting the book, which is hilarious too (I’ve also met people who believed the whole story about Florin and Guilder, hehehe, that’s part of the charm of the book). And the “fictional” parts of the book were also terrific, specially the ones I didn’t know, like the Zoo, for example. I loved it!!

    By the way, I’m organizing a joint reading of the book for the Spanish blogosphere because I want every body to read this book. Their lives will be better after reading it 😉 For me, it’s going to be a re-read and I’m looking forward to seeing my favourite characters again.
    What a book!

  2. Melinda

    I can’t remember if I saw that movie, honestly 🙁
    But thanks for this write-up, I really want to watch it and read the book now!

  3. Shannon @ River City Reading

    I just saw this movie for the first time a few years ago (blasphemous!) and I’m so sad I missed out on seeing it when I was younger. It’s one of those movies I know I would have adored so much as a kid. Glad to hear it was a good experience going back to read the book, sometimes that doesn’t work out so well from what I’ve tried.

    • Words For Worms

      Goodness, I’m surprised you managed to avoid it for so long! My crush on Fred Savage may have had a bit to do with the amount I watched this movie…

  4. Megan

    LOOOOVED this movie, but LOOOOOVED the book even more. We actually had to read it in 10th grade. The history behind Fezzik?? When his mother tries to make him tough? Classic.

  5. Heather

    Let me preface my comments by saying that I think The Princess Bride is the greatest movie ever made. I can’t choose a favorite book to save my life, but favorite movie – The Princess Bride wins hands down every time.

    It’s also one of the few book to movie adaptations that I actually enjoy, and I really think that’s because Goldman wrote the screenplay. I always seem to like the movies more when the original author is involved in the adaptation – it seems like they keep more of the “important” little details.

    My favorite parts of the book, however, are ones that aren’t in the movie. Fezzik’s backstory is wonderful – I mean, you’re going to toughen up a colossus? Seriously? I also really enjoyed the description of how Fezzik and Inigo entered the pit of despair. The movie makes it seem soooo easy, but it’s not.

    Yeah, I think I need to go dig out my copy again and add it to my reading list….

    • Words For Worms

      I agree, Fezzik’s back story would have been fantastic to see on screen and the Zoo of Death was so intense! In the movie they just go through that tree door and that’s it. No bats, no chaos, no nothing. I’m really glad I got around to reading this, I think I’ll enjoy my next viewing of the movie even more! 🙂

  6. Joules (from Pocketful of Joules)

    Okay, I freaking LOVE the Princess Bride so much that I bought a VHS tape of it a couple years ago TOTALLY FORGETTING that I haven’t had my VCR plugged in for probably a decade. Whatev’s though, it was at the Goodwill and I HAD to save it! I read the book many, many years ago and remember loving it just as much as the movie.

    As for favorite parts, I kind of love them all. And have been known to bust out in “BOOOO! BOOO!” like the scary witch woman when I’m displeased.

    • Words For Worms

      Hahahahaha! That is totally something I would do, only we have a dozen VCRs in our basement. (That’s not a joke, we literally have a dozen VCRs in the basement, thanks to Jim’s former video business and duplication needs. My basement is a broadcasting museum…)

  7. Megan M.

    Oh Katie we are gullible twins! I also found out there was a book way after the movie, and I also TOTALLY BELIEVED that Goldman was adapting some other old book. Just like I totally believed that “Fargo” was a true story until I found out that it wasn’t and the Coen brothers just said it was because they knew people would stick with a slow-paced movie longer if they thought it was true. (Evil geniuses.) In fact, probably the only “true story” claim I haven’t believed was “The Blair Witch Project” because, come on, really??

    • Words For Worms

      Oh thank goodness!!! I felt so dumb and thought I was the only one who fell for it! The Coen brothers ARE evil geniuses, but I think I knew Fargo wasn’t a true story beforehand. Same with The Blair Witch Project. It’s lucky, really, because I probably would have fallen for it. At least I have a gullibility twin! High five!

  8. lisa g

    I actually read the book first, in about the 8th grade. And I totally bought the whole “adaptation” bit. Saw the movie very shortly after that and love them both. I actually like Miracle Max better in the movie, but I really would have loved to see the Zoo of Death on screen. Possibly the best adaptation EVER!!

  9. Wayne

    Well I will probably never see “The Princess Bride” or read the book. *Lone Survivor* by Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell is more my speed. That being said, I recently picked up a NASCAR Barbie at a garage sale (Only Barbie I own btw). So I guess this says something about me.

  10. April @ The Steadfast Reader

    I have a confession to make that may mean we can’t be online buddies anymore: I truly dislike The Princess Bride movie. :X I KNOW.

    I don’t know what it is about it, but it annoys the poo out of me. My sister often accuses me of disliking anything that’s popular. But that can’t be true because I like the Beatles. (Elvis and the Rolling Stones can suck it, however.)

    There may be something mentally defective with me. I’ll have it checked out and get back to you. 🙂

    • Akilah

      There’s nothing wrong with you. I don’t like the movie either. I think it’s boring.

      LOVE the book, though. The book is awesome.

  11. Ashley F

    Considering how much I LOVE this movie, is surprising that I haven’t gotten around to reading the book. Usually if I love the book, I avoid the movie for the obvious reasons, but rarely is it the case that if you love the movie, do you dislike the book.

    • Words For Worms

      Movies I’ve loved and THEN read the books tend to work out well for me. I had the same sort of happy surprise with Fried Green Tomatoes. Maybe that’s the trick?

  12. karen123abc

    You just busted my illusions! I’m pretty sure the book I read many years ago by Goldman had “The Good Parts Version” as a subtitle to The Princess Bride…..and I bought it as a real story behind the movie. In my defense, this was long before Wikipedia was an option for me…. I really enjoyed the book, and my whole family still loves and quotes the movie.

    • Words For Worms

      I’m so glad I’m not alone!!! If it weren’t for the internet, I probably would have gone and embarrassed myself insisting Florin was a real place!

  13. Loralie

    For some reason I thought that the parts with his wife & son were real but that the main story wasn’t, so I was fooled too! I love this movie & still own it on vhs 🙂 I actually recommended this movie to someone, and she told me today that she watched it & did not like it at all, which I did not expect. It just never occured to me that she might not like it!

    • Words For Worms

      There was a part where he was kind of awful to his son (who was described as chubby and eating too many mashed potatoes) so I was really relieved to hear that was a farce!

  14. Jenny @ Reading the End

    Hahahaha, little Jenny totally fell for William Goldman’s tricks too. He’s a tricksy man!

    By far my favorite moment of that movie is when Inigo Montoya says “I want my father back you son of a bitch.” Even talking about it makes me want to go back and watch the movie again. Inigo Montoya is such the best. Such a boss even when he’s been gutstabbed.

    • Words For Worms

      I have such a hard time seeing Mandy Patinkin in anything else! I’m always shouting “My name is Inigo Montoya, you killed my father, prepare to die!” At the TV.

  15. C.J.

    Holy cow, I have loved both the book and movie for eons, but had no idea the whole back story was fake!

  16. Charleen

    I love the movie. I love the book. I love them for completely different reasons. But the biggest reason I love the book is because of all the April Fooling going on. For the story of Buttercup and Westley and their “Twoo Wuv,” I prefer the movie. But the book… is just brilliant.

    • Words For Worms

      Once I was in on the joke, I really liked it. He kept making these great weird parenthetical references to things… I recall a delightful discussion of stew that had me giggling.

  17. kristinshafel

    I loved this book! I read it all in one sitting on a long plane ride in high school. I never really thought about its origins before! 🙂

  18. Elizabeth

    Oh my god. I scoured the internet for HOURS after finishing the book to find the “sequel”. I’m so glad I’m not the only one who got fooled by this book – I felt likesuch an idiot when I figured out. (HOURS. I kid you not.)

  19. Katie @ Doing Dewey

    I love the book and the movie version of The Princess Bride, but in very different way. It’s been a little while since I read the book, but I remember feeling like it the humor was quite a bit more cynical than in the movie. Both a lot of fun though!

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