Many blog readers have probably seen the movie THE PRINCESS BRIDE, where screenwriter William Goldman uses the framing device of a young kid (played by Fred Savage, a.k.a. THE WONDER YEARS’s Kevin Arnold) being read to by his grandfather, with all appropriate dubiousness about the book’s romantic elements.
Fewer have probably read the book that came first, also by Goldman. Starting in third grade, I read it over and over for many years (much as I had obsessively watched the movie from a younger age, until my mother taped over part of it with the six o’clock news, and no I am not still bitter, but only just barely).
Here, Goldman uses a different framing device: he presents the book as being culled from an old academic history, inserting editorial notes into the text where he has removed “a two hundred page digression on the history of the Florish crown” and similar.
The embarassing part: I did not get that this was all Goldman’s invention, at all. I was in high school when I was earnestly explaining to my friend Seth what a great book this is and how Goldman had really improved it from the original by deleting all this boring stuff, when he — entirely from my description — said, “But you know he made all that up, right?”
I just looked at him.
The really embarassing part is that if he hadn’t said that, I sincerely don’t know how long it would have taken me. Would I have a vague sense, to this day, that the history of Florin and its royal intrigues is something I really ought to know more about? We’ll never know.