United States Bride
Why did The Princess Bride captivate America into the 12 months of Watergate? Nathaniel Rich revisits William Goldman’s classic and finds it grippingly readable—and bluntly honest.
In 1973—“the 12 months of infamy”—the final American bombs were fallen on Cambodia, OPEC issued an oil embargo, the currency markets crashed, and Woodward and Bernstein unveiled that there clearly was more towards the Watergate break-in than had first showed up. Also by US requirements, it had been minute of extravagant uneasiness, disillusionment, and mania. In the middle of this maelstrom arrived a strange and determinedly anachronistic brand new novel by William Goldman. It told the fairy-tale story of a Princess known as Buttercup, her abduction by an wicked prince and a six-fingered count, along with her rescue with a soft-hearted giant, a vengeance-mad swordsman, and a debonair masked hero called Westley. It is hard to think about a novel that bears less connection to its time compared to the Princess Bride. That will be just what made The Princess Bride so prompt.
It’s feasible that the dubious audience might discern specific Nixonian characteristics in Humperdinck, Goldman’s vain, conspiratorial, power-hungry prince, or see in Count Rugen, the prince’s diabolical, merciless, hypocritical hatchet man, a medieval Robert Haldeman. But Goldman is not interested in satire; and it’s also among the novel’s central motifs that satire is a bloodless, empty exercise, destroyed on all nevertheless the many pretentious, scholarly visitors. There was a great amount of room for observations with this sort, for “The Princess Bride” is just a novel in just a novel. In a thirty-page, first-person introduction, Goldman describes it was authored by S. Morgenstern, the renowned Florinese author (Florin being truly a nation “set between where Sweden and Germany would ultimately settle”), and read to Goldman as a kid by their daddy, a Florinese immigrant. Continue reading