We bought the latest DVD package of The Princess Bride by William Goldman. Yesterday in the afternoon we watched the movie for the millionth time and daughter played some of the games in special features. The rest of the evening we listened to Christmas music on Satellite and I started reading the book that came with the DVD. It starts off with a lengthy set of introductions by Goldman explaining how he spent a long time recovering from Pneumonia as a child and his father reading the story to him and it had changed his life. How when his own son turned ten he wanted to get a copy of the book as his birthday present and there is an interesting story in tracking down a copy and how his son hadn't liked it so he read it himself and decided it needed to be abridged from the original by S. Mortgenstern. He gives a detailed account of all the problems in getting a studio to make the movie, his failed marriage and then taking his ten year old grandson to Florin City for a visit. They walk through the Mortgenstern Museum looking at the sword made for a six fingered man, a mold of Fezzik's hand twice the size of Andre the Giant's, going into the study and looking through Mortgenstern's diaries and going on and on about how these people actually lived and that the story was true. He even places Florin and Guilder as two small countries between Sweeden and Germany. I read the first hundred and fifty pages of the story, where he talks about deleting an entire chapter because it was just about the argument of Humperdink and his cabinet about marrying a commoner and him making her the Princess of a small area of the Kingdom, what it took to teach her court etiquette. There are chapters on Inigo Montoya and his father, the life of Fezzik and so on and so forth.
Now I knew a Florin was the money of Florence durring the Renaissance, and a Guilder was the Dutch currency which created Capitalism during the Reformation. But the way Goldman interspersed such personal detail in his introduction he had me believing that there actually were countries called Florin and Guilder, that there actually was a S. Mortgenstern and that Goldman had only abridged the original story.
So having pricked my curiosity I Googled Florin. No surprise most of the entries were about the currency, and a number of cities in the United States with this name, but I did come across a link to Florin City. I followed that link anc came across some critiques of the novel. LOW AND BEHOLD the introduction and abridgement were all made up! I think Goldman must be getting a perverse pleasure as people for the last thirty-five years have fallen for his hoax and he laughs his head off at the gullibility of the reading public.
Wikipedia explains the allegory hidden in the story (It's about economics). I found it fascinating and read it to my wife.
She was not impressed. "It's just a story, don't try to make so much out of it."
I argued back, "You could say the same thing about Jonah. It's a story most children can relate to and understand, but at that level it's little more than a just a story, but when you look at it as allegory with Jonah representing the Hebrew nation, Nineveh the Gentiles and how Jonah refused to deliver God's message to the Gentiles he flees and is swallowed by a big fish, with the big fish being the Babylonian Captivity. That Nineveh repenting representing Christianity and salvation being open to Gentiles. The story makes much more sense. There's no need to try and find a fish big enough to swallow a man -- that wasn't the point of the story!
wife moaned and said,(referring to Princess Bride) "It's just a story, don't make so much out of it.