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The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton…
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The Bridge of San Luis Rey (1927)

by Thornton Wilder

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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English (90)  Spanish (1)  French (1)  All languages (92)
Showing 1-5 of 90 (next | show all)
This is the story of 5 people, all who lost their lives when a bridge in Peru collapsed. The events of their lives leading up to this are engaging and relevant, I felt the loss of their lives, although,obviously, complete strangers. This was a great read and I will be searching out his other novels. Awesome book, recommended. ( )
  over.the.edge | Sep 16, 2018 |
This short book tells the story of five people who lost their lives when the Bridge of San Luis Rey fell in Peru in the 1700's. Each chapter tells a story of one individual. The narrative begins when Father Junniper thinks he can find a rationale for why some are chosen to die and some are not. Is it that God has called the chosen or that the evil are finding their rewards. An eccentric Marquesa dies just after making a decision to change her life; her servant girl dies along with her. Estaban, a twin who has lost his brother dies while the Captain who he was accompanying is saved because he needs to go the lower road. Uncle Peo, an old friend of a famous actress dies along with her son.

Each of these people had some connection to the Abbess of a convent. The final chapter find relatives of the victims visiting the Abbess. Each of the victims was loved by someone; some will be remembered by many and some will be forgotten, but there is a thread of love connecting all. ( )
  maryreinert | May 11, 2018 |
"The finest bridge in all Peru broke and precipitated five travellers into the gulf below"
By sally tarbox on 26 February 2018
Format: Kindle Edition
In 1714 Peru, a bridge gives way, killing the five random individuals on it; an old noblewoman, ugly, derided by many, and abandoned by her lovely but cold-hearted daughter; the orphan girl attending her; a depressed young man who has lost his twin brother; an elderly man who 'manages' a celebrated actress; and the young son of said lady, whom he's taking to educate.
After the event, a local priest tries to investigate the lives of the victims in a bid to prove a logic to this 'act of God'. While the abbess who knew the dead sees the effect of the tragedy on those left behind and their resultant actions, commenting "there is a land of the living and a land of the dead, and the bridge is love, the only survival, the only meaning."

This is a well-written work as Wilder delineates the complex characters of the protagonists. I didn't find it massively engaging as a read, but recognise the literary merit and philosophical debate. ( )
  starbox | Feb 25, 2018 |
I loved this book. It is a set of short stories linked together by a framing narrative- a bridge collapses and several people are killed, and each story tells the story of one of the people who died in that event. The writing is lovely, and some of the imagery is hauntingly memorable. ( )
  JBarringer | Dec 30, 2017 |
Peru, 1714. A rope bridge over a deep gorge collapses, sending five people plummeting to their deaths. Brother Juniper, a Franciscan monk, witnesses the tragedy. The collapse of the bridge is, in his mind, an unambiguous Act of God; therefore, there must have been a purpose in it---and in the circumstances which brought each of the five to the bridge. Determined, first, to understand this himself, so that he may demonstrate it to others, Brother Juniper begins to investigate the five lives so abruptly cut short: those of the Marquesa de Montemayor, unhappily estranged from her beloved daughter, to whom she writes copious letters which will bring her posthumous fame; Pepita, a girl from a convent-orphanage, who is destined for great works by the convent's Abbess; Esteban, a young scribe left alone and confused by the death of his twin, Manuel; Uncle Pio, who has devoted his life to the training of a great actress, only to see her lose interest in the drama; and Don Jaime, the actress's small son, whom Uncle Pio takes into his own care when his mother is struck down by small-pox and poverty... This short novel from 1927 by Thornton Wilder addresses the literally eternal question of whether the world is the work of an interventionist God, or whether the fate of mankind is dictated by an often unhappy blending of random events and free will: a question often summed up - as, tacitly, it is within the book itself - in terms of bad things happening to good people. Beautifully written, and full of astute and often painfully ironic observations upon the human condition, The Bridge Of San Luis Rey is of course no more capable of answering the questions it raises than any other work of literature or philosophy either before or after it. Brother Juniper soon loses sight of the fact that while the devil may be in the details, God is not. His increasingly unsatisfactory "report", which only becomes more unsatisfactory as it assembles more and more facts, finally acts as an ironic reflection of the novel which contains it: a novel which begins with its omniscient narrator conceding his lack of omniscience. We, like Brother Juniper, are left with the perception of a confusing, often cruelly random world, in which each individual can only do his or her best---whether in the sense of "God's will be done", or the more pragmatic one of "shit happens". Which side of this conclusion Thornton Wilder rests upon is evident in his novel's famous and much-quoted coda - There is a land of the living and a land of the dead, and the bridge is love, the only survival, the only meaning - yet there is nevertheless an inescapable feeling that in this, he was writing against himself. Isolation and loneliness are recurrent themes in Wilder's writing, and The Bridge Of San Luis Rey is a far more convincing work when it is detailing the way in which human beings inevitably fail each other than it is in its final suggestions of enduring connections and survival through love.

The result of all this diligence was an enormous book, which, as we shall see later, was publicly burned on a beautiful Spring morning in the great square. But there was a secret copy, and after a great many years and without much notice it found its way to the library of the University of San Martin. There it lies between the two great wooden covers collecting dust in a cupboard. It deals with one after another of the victims of the accident, cataloguing thousands of little facts and anecdotes and and testimonies, and concluding with a dignified passage describing why God had settled upon that person or upon that day for His demonstration of wisdom. Yet for all his diligence, Brother Juniper never knew the central passion of Doña Maria's life; nor of Uncle Pio's; not even of Esteban's. And I, who claim to know so much more, isn't it possible that even I have missed the very spring within the spring?
Some say that we shall never know, and that to the gods we are like the flies that the boys kill on a summer day, and some say, on the contrary, that the very sparrows do not lose a feather that has not been brushed away by the finger of God...
6 vote lyzard | Nov 20, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 90 (next | show all)
It is no exaggeration to say that on second reading I was completely blown away, not so much by Wilder's sensitive treatment of his central theme as by the richness and power of his prose.

It is an entirely remarkable book, it has lost none of its pertinence in the eight decades since its publication, and I'm very glad indeed that my old friend sent me back to it.
 

» Add other authors (17 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Wilder, ThorntonAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Abrahams-van Raalte, J.H.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bergsma, PeterTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Charlot, JeanIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Drevenstedt, AmyIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hicks, GranvilleIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kent, RockwellIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Koene, SimonIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Leighton, ClareIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Perlstein-van Raalte, A. vanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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On Friday noon, July the twentieth, 1714, the finest bridge in all Peru broke and precipitated five travellers into the gulf below.
Foreword

Thornton Wilder's Bridge of San Luis Rey is as close to perfect a moral fable as we are ever likely to get in American literature.
Quotations
Either we live by accident and die by accident, or we live by plan and die by plan. And on that instant Brother Juniper made the resolve to inquire into the secret lives of those five persons, that moment falling through the air, and to surprise the reason of their taking off.
…the Conde delighted in her letters, but he thought that when he had enjoyed the style he had extracted all their richness and intention, missing (as most readers do) the whole purport of literature, which is the notation of the heart. Style is but the faintly contemptible vessel in which the bitter liquid is recommended to the world.
Some days he regarded his bulk ruefully; but the distress of remorse was less poignant that the distress of fasting.
His favourite notions: that the poor, never having known happiness, are insensible to misfortune.... that only the widely read could be said to KNOW that they were unhappy.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0060088877, Paperback)

This beautiful new edition features unpublished notes for the novel and other illuminating documentary material, all of which is included in a new Afterword by Tappan Wilder.

"On Friday noon, July the twentieth, 1714, the finest bridge in all Peru broke and precipitated five travelers into the gulf below." With this celebrated sentence Thornton Wilder begins The Bridge of San Luis Rey, one of the towering achievements in American fiction and a novel read throughout the world.

By chance, a monk witnesses the tragedy. Brother Juniper then embarks on a quest to prove that it was divine intervention rather than chance that led to the deaths of those who perished in the tragedy. His search leads to his own death -- and to the author's timeless investigation into the nature of love and the meaning of the human condition.

This new edition of Wilder’s 1928 Pulitzer Prize winning novel contains a new foreword by Russell Banks.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:11:26 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

This beautiful new edition features unpublished notes for the novel and other illuminating documentary mate- rial, all of which is included in a new Afterword by Tappan Wilder. "On Friday noon, July the twentieth, 1714,the finest bridge in all Peru broke and precipitated five travelers into the gulf below." With this celebrated sentence Thornton Wilder begins The Bridge of San Luis Rey, one of the towering achievements in American fiction and a novel read throughout the world. By chance, a monk witnesses the tragedy. Brother Juniper then embarks on a quest to prove that it was divine intervention rather than chance that led to the deaths of those who perished in the tragedy. His search leads to his own death -- and to the author's timeless investigation into the nature of love and the meaning of the human condition.… (more)

» see all 11 descriptions

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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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An edition of this book was published by HighBridge Audio.

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HighBridge

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