Tuesday, December 15, 2009

book clubbing in December

My book club met a bit early this month because of the holidays.
Our selection for December was The Princess Bride and I have to say that I was surprised how many people in our group hadn't read the book or seen the movie. Of course, I'm the youngest member of the book club, but still. I hadn't read the book before this month, but I've seen the movie many times.

The Princess Bride by William Goldman

The subtitle of The Princess Bride is "S. Morgenstern's Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure; The 'Good Parts' Version" and in the novel carries on the ruse that he's abridging a classic and the text is full of his commentary on the original work. Usually I have no problem with kind of literary device, but I have to admit that Goldman's digressions really started to annoy me after a while. I have the 25th anniversary edition and I didn't even bother to finish the special "Buttercup's Baby" section at the end because of it (full disclosure: I was sick and so probably more easily irritated than usual).

In any case, book club: like I mentioned above, there were a number of people who were unfamiliar with The Princess Bride. Reactions were really all over the board: some loved it, some disliked it, and some were neither here nor there. We talked about fantasy in general, Goldman's writing style, what we did/did not like about the story, and the differences between the novel and the movie (as well as casting choices).

The Princess Bride is really the perfect jumping-off point for a discussion about movie adaptations because Goldman and director Rob Reiner were able to stay so true to the original.

On a side note, while writing up this post I came across something that referred to The Princess Bride as a Ruritanian romance. I'd never heard that term before so I set out to investigate it. Apparently the term refers to a story set in a fictional country (like Goldman's Florin). British author Anthony Hope (1863-1933) created Ruritania, a fictional country in central Europe, as a setting for The Prisoner of Zenda and two other books.

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