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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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4,4241122,233 (3.78)212
This beautiful new edition features unpublished notes for the novel and other illuminating documentary material, all of which is included in a new Afterword by Tappan Wilder.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.… (more)
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» See also 212 mentions

English (106)  Spanish (2)  French (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (110)
Showing 1-5 of 106 (next | show all)
For its importance (that of its so-called religious significance), i give it 3 stars, but the story itself rated 2.5 stars.

2002 Paperback, Wilder Family LLC
Brother Juniper:
P.6-7:
"... Perhaps it was the pure air from the snows before him; perhaps it was the memory that brushed him for a moment of the poem that made him raise his eyes to the helpful hills. At all events he felt at peace. Then his glance fell upon the bridge, and at that moment a twanging noise filled the air, as when the string of some musical instruments snaps in a disused room, and he saw the bridge divide and fling five gesticulating ants into the valley below."

The Marquesa de Montemayor:
P.21:
"...between the acts it was the Perichole's custom to lay aside the courtly rôle and appear before the curtain to sing a few topical songs. the malicious actress had seen the Marquesa arrive and presently began improvising couplets alluding to her appearance, her avarice, her drunkenness, and even to her daughter's flight from her. The attention of the house was suddenly directed to the old woman and a rising murmur of contempt accompanied the laughter of the audience. but the marquesa, deeply moved by the first two acts of the comedy, scarcely saw the singer and sat staring before her, thinking about spain. Camila perichole became bolder and the air was electric with the hatred and Glee of the crowd. At last Pepita Plucked the Marqueza's sleeve and whispered to her that they should go. As they left the box the house arose and burst into a roar of triumph; the perichole flung herself into a frenzied dance, for she saw the manager at the back of the hall and knew that her salary had been increased. But the marquesa remained unaware of what had taken place; in fact she was quite pleased, for during the visit she had contrived a few solicitous phrases, phrases ( who knows ) that might bring a smile to her daughter's face and make her murmur: 'really, my mother is charming.' "

P.32:
"at last the time came to satisfy the supreme rite of Peruvian households looking forward to this event: she made the pilgrimage to the shrine of Santa Maria de Clumambuqua....the ground had been holy through three religions; even before the inca civilization distraught human beings had hugged the rocks and lashed themselves with whips to wring their will from the skies. Thither the marquesa was carried in her chair, crossing The bridge of San Luis Rey and ascending up into the hills towards the city of large-girdled women, a tranquil town, slow-moving and slow-smiling; a city of Crystal air, cold as the springs that fed its many fountains; musical, and tuned to carry on with one another the happiest quarrels."

Manuel, the twin, who falls in love with the Perichole:
P.45:
"...this Manuel had not fallen in love through any imitation of literature. it was not of him, at all events, that the bitterest tongue in France had remarked only 50 years before: that many people would never have fallen in love if they had not heard about it. Manuel read little; he had only been once to the theater ( where above all there reigns the legend that love is a devotion ) and the Peruvian tavern-songs that he might have heard, unlike those of spain, reflected very little of the romantic cult of an idealized woman."

Manuel gets his knee cut open on a piece of metal, and an infection sets in, causing him to die. Esteban is crushed. He feels so alone. Although captain Alvarado convinces him to sail with him, he nearly succeeds in hanging himself, being rescued at the last moment by the captain, who tells him:
P.64:
" ...'we do what we can. We push on, esteban, as best we can. It isn't for long, you know. Time keeps going by. You'll be surprised at the way time passes.
they started for lima. When they reached The bridge of San Luis rey, the captain descended to the stream below in order to supervise the passage of some merchandise, but Esteban crossed by the bridge and fell with it."

Uncle Pio (who took the Perichole out of the cafes where she was singing and taught her all she knows about acting) has been rejected by Camila Perichole. She has decided she is tired of the theater and wants to be a respected society woman. She gets forged documents that make her three children from the Viceroy legitimate. Uncle pio goes to see her one last time, trying to convince her to reopen relations between them.
P.94:
"...her eyes were resting on the star that seemed to be leading forth the whole sky in its wonder. A great pain lay at her heart, the pain of a world that was meaningless. then she said: 'if Jaime wishes to go with you, very well. I shall talk to him in the morning. If he wishes to go with you, you will find him at the Inn about noon. Good night. Go with god.'
'go with god.'
she returned to the house. The next day the grave little boy appeared at the Inn. His fine clothes were torn and stained now and he carried a small bundle for change. His mother had given him a gold piece for spending money and a little stone that shown in the dark to look at in his sleepless nights. They set off together in a cart, but soon Uncle pio became aware that the jolting was not good for the boy. He carried him on his shoulder. As they drew near to The bridge of San Luis rey, Jaime tried to conceal his shame for he knew that one of those moments was coming that separated him from other people [he was epileptic]. He was especially ashamed because Uncle pio had just overtaken a friend of his, a sea captain. And just as they got to the bridge he spoke to an old lady who was traveling with a little girl. Uncle pio said that when they had crossed the bridge they would sit down and rest, but it turned out not to be necessary."

The Abbess, Madre Maria, thinking about the loss of two of her former students while Doña Clara, daughter of the Marquesa, visits her:
P.107:
"but even while she was talking, other thoughts were passing in the back of her mind. 'Even now,' she thought, 'almost no one remembers Esteban and pepita, but myself. Camila alone remembers her uncle pio and her son; this woman, her mother. But soon we shall die and All 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."



( )
  burritapal | Oct 23, 2022 |
Tells the stories of five people who died when the Bridge of San Luis Rey collapsed in Lima. "There is a land of the living and the a land of the dead, and the bridge is love." ( )
  oranje | Oct 18, 2022 |
I enjoyed the story, but I've already spent a significant amount of time thinking about the main themes of this book, so I didn't find it particularly remarkable. I'm glad I finally read it though. ( )
  SarahMac314 | Aug 12, 2022 |
On Friday noon, July the twentieth, 1714, the finest bridge in all Peru broke and precipitated five travelers into the gulf below.

Thus begins The Bridge of San Luis Rey. Brother Juniper, a Franciscan monk, witnesses the collapse, and he sets out to know about the five people and determine why God chose to end those five lives on that day.

Either we live by accident and die by accident, or we live by plan and die by plan.> poses Brother Juniper. In doing so, he asks the fundamental question that haunts all of us at some time in our lives, particularly in a time of loss in which we can see no pattern and no good. The five are old and young, they are wealthy and poor, they are all embarking on some significant change, and they are all expecting to make it to the other side of the bridge, as indeed thousands have done for centuries, and live.

As we begin to know the five individuals who plunged from the bridge to their deaths below, we see not paragons of virtue being harvested by God, nor minions of evil being punished, but five people, involved in life, planning their futures, embarking on new paths, who are suddenly and abruptly gone. What struck me most was that each of them had grappled with some overwhelming adversity and each was looking at a glimmer of hope for finding their way forward when their lives were stopped.

Dissertations have been written on this short masterpiece, and without giving significant plot away, it would be impossible for me to add anything of value. I find it staggering that so much depth of understanding of the human dilemma, the different varieties of love, and man’s struggle to comprehend God could be packed into such a short work. Wilder has perfected the art of saying only what is needed and nothing more.

I could not close this review without adding one last quote. It struck me as being one of the most true and important things I have ever read:

”Even now,” she thought, “almost no one remembers Estaban and Pipita, but myself. Camila alone remembers Uncle Pio and her son; this woman, her mother. But soon we shall die and all memory of those five will have left the earth, and we ourselves shall be loved for a while and then 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.”
( )
  mattorsara | Aug 11, 2022 |
This was my first Wilder book and I guess I never adjusted to his writing style. The book was a bit slow for me as well. I realize this was the book that put Wilder in the mainstream and I respect its place in literary history. ( )
  btbell_lt | Aug 1, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 106 (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
Wilder, ThorntonAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Abrahams-van Raalte, J.H.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Baeza Villena, RicardoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Banks, RussellForewordsecondary 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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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.

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