Study Guide

The Princess Bride

By William Goldman

The Princess Bride Introduction

William Goldman starts The Princess Bride by telling us that it's his favorite book in the whole world… even though he's never read it. Does that make you scratch your head a bit? Here's why: Goldman's father used to read it to him when he was just a young boy. So technically, he's never read it himself.

Things only get stranger, though, when Goldman says that the story was originally written by a dude named S. Morgenstern. A quick Google search will prove that there's no such dude, and as such, no such "original" book. So what gives? Goldman made the whole thing up, and then wrote his own book to pretend like he was recovering an old classic. And guess what? The Goldman in the book isn't actually even the Goldman who—in the real world, where we live—wrote the book.

Confusing beginnings aside, when it first came out in 1973, The Princess Bride became a quick bestseller. Thirteen years later, it was also made into one of the most famous young adult movies of all time. And throughout all of this, Goldman never stopped adding to the legend of the "original" Morgenstern book that his own is supposedly based on. It didn't take long for the world to realize that the original didn't exist, but Goldman never gave up the lie.

Based on its title, you might guess that this book's a fairytale. And you're right—it is—but it's a fairytale that pushes the boundaries of the genre. So time and again, when you think you know how things might turn out based on typical fairytale plot progressions, this one messes with your expectations. Just like the whole Goldman-Goldman-Morgenstern set-up is a bit twisted and unusual, so, too, is the story of the princess bride herself and the various men ensnared in her plot line.

So if you like giants, sword fights, and overgrown rats—or you just enjoy a book that messes with your head a bit—pick up a copy of The Princess Bride and join its legions of fans.

What is The Princess Bride About and Why Should I Care?

Nowadays, it's pretty common for English teachers to downplay a book's plot and put more emphasis on themes and symbols. But let's be honest: A super cool plot is what keeps us interested in a story most of the time, and that's exactly what Goldman wants to celebrate in The Princess Bride. This may not be considered great literature (though it clearly has staying power), but that's kind of Goldman's point: Read for the pure joy of getting lost in a story.

When was the last time you let yourself get totally swept up in a fantastical world with no regard to your topic sentence or the opening paragraph of a paper? If you're reading this and you're in the middle of the school year, chances are decent it might've been a while. If not, more power to you; but if this is indeed the case, then consider The Princess Bride an official invitation from Goldman to read just for the fun of it. After all, life isn't just about term papers—it's about having fun, too. And this book is definitely fun.

The Princess Bride Resources

WEBSITES

William Goldman at Filmmakers.com
Check out this website for all your William Goldman vitals.

William Goldman at IMDB
The home of Internet movie info has a nice, cushy place for our old friend.

The Princess Bride Forever
Check out this sweet site dedicated to all things Princess Bride. Be warned, though, that it's mostly interested in the movie.

MOVIE OR TV PRODUCTIONS

The Princess Bride (1987)
Look around all you want, but this is the definitive Princess Bride movie version. Directed by Rob Reiner, this thing is one of the most popular movies ever made.

The Princess Bride (2012)
Good luck finding a copy. But if you do, we wish you all the best in watching it. The story is pretty amazing, so we imagine that any version will be good.

ARTICLES AND INTERVIEWS

"17 Things The Princess Bride Taught Me About Autism Parenting"
One mother's unique and fascinating spin on what The Princess Bride can teach us about autism.

TPB Beats 'Em All
This article recounts how The Princess Bride managed to win first place at the Festival of Festivals. Out of 238 of the most beloved films of all time, The Princess Bride took first place. Score one for William Goldman… ahem, we mean S. Morgenstern.

Interview with William Goldman
CNN sits down with William Goldman to talk about his career and of course, The Princess Bride, the book that keeps on giving.

VIDEO

Vizzini's Death
One of the best deaths in the book is definitely one of the best deaths in the movie version, too.

Inigo and Westley Swordfight
Did we say Vizzini's death was the best part? We meant Inigo's fight with Westley.

Meet William Goldman
How about a good look at the man behind The Princess Bride?

AUDIO

Fan Reads TPB Part 1
Settle in and let this fan read to you. After all, it's a lot less tiring than reading to yourself.

Audiobook Download
This is the place for you if you want a full audio copy of the book.

IMAGES

Andre the Giant as Fezzik
This is one of the best casting calls of all time, if we may say so.

Mandy Patinkin as Inigo Montoya
Any Homeland fans out there? Well it turns out that Saul is also Inigo.

Robin Wright as Princess Buttercup
And here we have the woman the book is named after.

William Goldman
And let's not forget the author of the book itself. Can't you just feel him staring into your eyes?