Perusing The Princess Bride

15 Jan

One of my college roommates told me, “You laugh at everything!” It wasn’t entirely true. But I do have a tendency to laugh at all the wrong moments. At a car stopping in front of a speed bump. At my Sunday School teacher’s alliteration. All the way through Miracle on 34th Street (which, to the surprise of those with me, I actually didn’t like).

The currently most accepted philosophy of humor holds that we usually laugh because we see an incongruity of some kind. There aren’t many philosophers interested in humor—which means that either the humor or the philosophers aren’t very interesting. Either way, I think I actually concur (for once) with the mainstream opinion. My problem is that I see incongruities where no one else does. Thus the laugh. My mother has warned me to watch my smirk, which appears at odd moments and might disturb innocent people.

But that odd sense of humor has brought me a lot of entertainment (not to mention a few good friends), so I’m not terribly bothered. Though I am trying to control the smirk. At any rate, there are some books that require a certain sense of humor to be fully appreciated. One of them is The Princess Bride.

It’s metafictional in places—a supposed abridgement of a fake classic where the plot is repeatedly interrupted by complaints about the original author, overbearing publishers, and people in general. There is a princess—who is and remains an idiot—and her farmboy/swordsman/pirate lover, who gets tortured to death. In a place called the Zoo of Death. By a nobleman with a scientific interest in pain. Don’t be afraid, though, because there is a miracle man who can save people who are either “sort of dead” or “mostly dead.” Particularly with the help of chocolate.

I saw the Princess Bride movie–a slightly washed-out reflection of the book–earlier this year, and I thought it was the funniest thing I had ever watched. I have been informed that the humor in that movie is “juvenile” and that it isn’t really funny. If that was your opinion of it, don’t read the book. But if you liked the movie (or, for that matter, if you like The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy) you probably should give the book a chance.

A clarification–whether “juvenile” or not, The Princess Bride is not a kids’ book. So don’t read it to them. If you like quirky humor, however, you’ll get that and more. One of the characters in the book says, “For some reason, I test very high on forgettability.” Fortunately, The Princess Bride does not.


Posted by on January 15, 2014 in Fantasy


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7 responses to “Perusing The Princess Bride

  1. Monica

    January 15, 2014 at 5:36 pm

    1) I find everything funny. It can get me into trouble too! I’ll never remember convocation day my freshman year of college…all the wide-eyed freshman, sitting quietly in the front rows, wondering what was going to happen. And then the faculty started processing in in academic regalia. Black robes…colorful hoods…ridiculous hats…somber expressions… I cracked up, shaking in my seat, gnawing desperately on my tongue trying to get ahold of myself…

    2) I also agree that it is a recognition of incongruity. So does Aristotle, bless his brilliant soul.

    3) THE PRINCESS BRIDE! I can quote the whole thing. As can my family. Who says it is juvenile?! Let me at ’em!

    • Monica

      January 15, 2014 at 5:36 pm

      Er…I’ll never FORGET, that’s never forget.

    • A. Carroll Crowe

      January 16, 2014 at 11:02 pm

      (Er…my sister. Don’t fight her, she’s a black belt.)

      In regards to convocation, I sympathize. At my high school graduation, I almost burst out laughing on my way up to the stage because all the formality suddenly struck me as ridiculous. :p

  2. LS

    January 15, 2014 at 10:51 pm

    Let it be known that the “like” was liked with many thumbs up and many fond memories.

  3. Elizabeth @ DogFurandDandelions

    January 16, 2014 at 5:50 pm

    Inconceivable! And yes, it does mean what I think it means. 😉

  4. bryanajoy

    February 7, 2014 at 2:19 am

    I’ve not read the book, since I’ve heard a lot of people say they hated it. But we’ve seen that movie so many, many, many times in my house that my siblings and I can all four lie in a tent and quote it all the way through, in almost perfect rhythm.

    So, based on your review, maybe I should read the book 🙂


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