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The Bridge of San Luis Rey (1927)

by Thornton Wilder

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
4,7181192,355 (3.78)234
Classic Literature. Fiction. The Bridge of San Luis Rey, Thornton Wilder's second novel, won him the first of his three Pulitzer Prizes. The novel opens in the aftermath of an inexplicable tragedy-a tiny footbridge in Peru breaks, and five travelers hurtle to their deaths. Most townspeople think to themselves with secret joy, "Within 10 minutes myself...." But for Brother Juniper, a humble Franciscan friar who witnesses the catastrophe, the question is inescapable: Why those five? Suddenly, Brother Juniper is committed to discover what manner of lives these five disparate people led-and whether it was divine intervention that took their lives, or a capricious fate. Wilder maintained in his works that true meaning and beauty are found in ordinary experience. This is especially true of The Bridge of San Luis Rey. From the very beginning to the stunning conclusion, the listener is absorbed into the individual stories of the five victims, and how their destinies intertwine.… (more)
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» See also 234 mentions

English (114)  Spanish (3)  Dutch (1)  French (1)  All languages (119)
Showing 1-5 of 114 (next | show all)
“Either we live by accident and die by accident, or we live by plan and die by plan.”

The finest footbridge in Peru, the bridge of San Luis Rey, breaks and five people die. Brother Juniper witnessed the tragedy and is resolved to investigate and understand why those five met with that fate.
Doña María and Pepita. Esteban. Uncle Pio and Don Jamie.

Beautifully written, with flowery language and a strong sense of place and people of Lima and the places around it. Definitely glad that I finally read this!

And what an ending!:

"But soon we shall die and all the memory of those five will have left the earth, and we ourselves shall be loved for a while and forgotten. But the love will have been enough; all those impulses of love return to the love that made them. Even memory is not necessary for love. There is a land of the living and a land of the dead and the bridge is love, the only survival, the only meaning." ( )
  Stahl-Ricco | Jan 20, 2024 |
This book is so good that even a strong conclusionary atheist and antitheist like myself is not annoyed by the meaningless, and in any case faint, religious framing. ( )
  zangasta | Dec 1, 2023 |


This book is an odd, delightful treat that won’t take up too much of your time. It’s that weird ice cream flavor you try (maybe lobster or sweet potato) that ends up becoming a personal favorite.

In a Peruvian mountain pass, a seemingly sturdy and reliable rope bridge snaps, sending five souls to their deaths. A Franciscan friar sets out to find out why these five should have died and not someone else, looking for a way to justify to man the divine plan he’s so sure of at work in the world.

What follows is a neat little story delving deep into the lives of three individuals in their time leading up to the fatal bridge collapse. There is Dona Maria, an aging great lady who’s desperate for the love of her aloof daughter, the young Esteban dealing with his strained relationship with his twin brother, and old Uncle Pio, an elderly scoundrel who discovered a peasant girl and raised her into a prodigy of the Spanish stage. While all these stories are intriguing and thought provoking on their own, the ending and what it has to say about the meaning of life and death is what truly makes this a classic worth revisiting.
( )
  Autolycus21 | Oct 10, 2023 |
Deliziosi i primi due capitoli - il secondo in particolare.

Il resto, pur bello, m'e' parso un po' piu' di maniera. ( )
  kenshin79 | Jul 25, 2023 |
Ma il pensiero che colpi’ frate Ginepro fu un altro: “Perche’ e’ toccata a quei cinque?”. Se esiste nell’universo qualche piano, se nella vita umana v’e’ un disegno, certo lo si puo’ scoprire, misteriosamente latente, in quelle vite cosi’ improvvisamente trovate. O noi siamo vivi per caso, e per caso moriamo, o viviamo secondo un piano, e secondo un piano moriamo. (13)

La Natura e’ sorda. Dio e’ indifferente. Nulla di quanto l’uomo fa puo’ cambiare il corso delle leggi. Allora, a qualche angolo di strada, Dona Maria si fermava presa da un vortice di disperazione, e, appoggiatasi al muro, spasimava di uscire da un mondo che non ha alcun disegno. Ma tosto la fede nel grande Forse insorgeva dal piu’ profondo del suo essere, e si dirigeva verso casa di corsa, ... (44)

Vi risparmiero’ le deduzioni di frate Ginepro: le incontriamo ad ogni passo. Egli credette di vedere, nella grande catastrofe, i perversi colpiti dalla distruzione e gli innocenti chiamati giovani in Cielo. Gli parve di vedere l’orgoglio e la ricchezza confusi come un esempio al mondo, e gli parve di vedere l’umilta’ incoronata e ricompensata, a edificazione della citta’. Ma frate Ginepro non rimase soddisfatto delle sue ragioni. (132)


( )
  NewLibrary78 | Jul 22, 2023 |
Showing 1-5 of 114 (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 (28 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Thornton Wilderprimary authorall editionscalculated
Abrahams-van Raalte, J.H.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Baeza Villena, RicardoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Banks, RussellForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bartocci, MaurizioTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bergsma, PeterTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Boyle, KayIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bozic, MilanCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Buhofer, InesNachwortsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Butcher, LawrenceIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Charlot, JeanIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cohen, MarkCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Colan, LauraCover Photographersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Costa Clos, MercèTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Costain, Thomas BEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
De Bosis, L.Traduttoresecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Drevenstedt, AmyIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Filep Sándor,Illustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fuentecilla, EricCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Grimm, GerdCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Groenendaal jr, M.H.cvrsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Herlitschka, Herberth EgonTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hicks, GranvilleIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jakobeit, BrigitteÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Janez GradišnikTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Johansons, AndrejsTulk.secondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jong jr, Maarten deIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kent, RockwellIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kobayashi, Shoshichisecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Koene, SimonIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kosztolányi, DezsőTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Le Bihan, Samuelacteursecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Leighton, ClareIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lejarraga de Martínez Sierra, MaríaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lez de Ayala, Pilarsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lobato, MonteiroTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Martin, FrankIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Maugham, WilliamIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
McNeill, J. M.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nix, RobertCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Oldenburg, PeterDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Perlstein-van Raalte, A. vanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rémon, MauriceTraductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Reed, DanCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Settimanali, Collana Gli OscarIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Soosaar, EnnTÕlkija.secondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Teixidor, DídacTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vatain, JulieTraductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Waterson, SamNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wilder, TappanAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Williams, Mary EllenNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Калашников… Е.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Голышев В.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Голышева Е.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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My Mother
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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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Wikipedia in English (1)

Classic Literature. Fiction. The Bridge of San Luis Rey, Thornton Wilder's second novel, won him the first of his three Pulitzer Prizes. The novel opens in the aftermath of an inexplicable tragedy-a tiny footbridge in Peru breaks, and five travelers hurtle to their deaths. Most townspeople think to themselves with secret joy, "Within 10 minutes myself...." But for Brother Juniper, a humble Franciscan friar who witnesses the catastrophe, the question is inescapable: Why those five? Suddenly, Brother Juniper is committed to discover what manner of lives these five disparate people led-and whether it was divine intervention that took their lives, or a capricious fate. Wilder maintained in his works that true meaning and beauty are found in ordinary experience. This is especially true of The Bridge of San Luis Rey. From the very beginning to the stunning conclusion, the listener is absorbed into the individual stories of the five victims, and how their destinies intertwine.

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