Who can know when his world is going to change? Who can tell before it happens, that every prior experience, all the years, were a preparation for…nothing. Perhaps I should have at least known something, but maybe not; who can sense revelation in the wind?
William Goldman wrote those words after his father first read The Princess Bride to him. He was ten years old then. I am now twenty-two years old, decades after the book was published and made into a movie, but only two chapters into the novel, and I knew exactly how Goldman felt.
What’s so special about it? Goldman’s father said it best:
Fencing. Fighting. Torture. Poison. True love. Hate. Revenge. Giants. Hunters. Bad men. Good men. Beautifulest ladies. Snakes. Spiders. Beasts of all natures and descriptions. Pain. Death. Brave men. Coward men. Strongest men. Chases. Escapes. Lies. Truths. Passion. Miracles.
The Princess Bride has all these and more, in wonderfully, hilariously over-the-top proportions. I will let several quotes show you what I mean:
Westley: I have stayed these years in my hovel because of you. I have made my body strong because I thought you might be pleased with a strong body. I have lived my life with only the prayer that some sudden dawn you might glance in my direction. I have not known a moment in years when the sight of you did not send my heart careening against my rib cage. I have not known a night when your visage did not accompany me to sleep. There has not been a morning when you did not flutter behind my waking eyelids…. Is any of this getting through to you, Buttercup, or do you want me to go on for a while?
Buttercup: Never stop.
And that was when the scream began. The sound grew in anguish, and it filled the night sky as it spread across the castle grounds, over the walls, even into the Great Square beyond. It would not stop. It simply hung now below the sky, an audible reminder of the existence of agony. In the Great Square, half a dozen children screamed back at the night, trying to blot out the sound. Some wept, some only ran for home.
Inigo: Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya; you killed my father; prepare to die.
The Count screamed.
“That was just to the left of your heart.” Inigo struck again.
Another scream. “That was below your heart. Can you guess what I’m doing?”
“Cutting my heart out.”
“DON’T BE FRIGHTENED!” Inigo screamed.
“I’M NOT, I’M NOT!” Fezzik screamed right back.
See what I’m talking about? These few glimpses do not do the book justice, though. You have to read it for yourself. And when you do, prepare to fall in love.