Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Goldman, William

(1931-2018) US screenwriter and novelist, well known for his scripts for movies like Harper (1966), Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) and The Stepford Wives (1974). He has also adapted several of his own novels, most notably Marathon Man (1974 book; 1976 movie), whose unfilmed sequel, Brothers (1987), is sf. Beginning with The Temple of Gold (1957), he has written novels in various genres, with the Morgenstern Fables sequence – The Princess Bride: S. Morgenstern's Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure, The "Good Parts" Version, Abridged by William Goldman (1973) and The Silent Gondoliers: A Fable by S. Morgenstern (1983; 1985 as by WG) – being of most fantasy note. The former – recreated as the movie The Princess Bride (1987) – is an interesting example of a book which is itself a fictional Book, since it purports to be WG's recension of a Book called The Princess Bride by one S Morgenstern, which had been read to him in full when he was a sick child. In its exaggeration of motifs it can be understood as Revisionist Fantasy. Princess Buttercup, unwillingly agrees to marriage with the evil Prince Humperdinck, but is rescued by young Westley, who combines all the characteristics of the Hero – notably, he is her long-lost childhood sweetheart who has made good or, as it were, bad, because he has been a renownedly swashbuckling Pirate. Much action ensues, and a metafictional ending – in the course of which WG attacks the fantasy Story because it inherently strives for Eucatastrophe – closes proceedings. The Silent Gondoliers is a tale in the same mode, but without the bite.

Other novels of interest include Magic (1976), filmed as Magic (1978) with a WG script, in which a ventriloquist (see Ventriloquism) suffering a schizophrenic disorder comes to believe that his dummy is his Double; the text is interestingly ambiguous at points (see Perception), though everything can ultimately be explained as delusional (see Delusion; Rationalized Fantasy). Control (1982) is a complex Supernatural Fiction. [JC]

William W Goldman


This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.