Read The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder Free Online
Book Title: The Bridge of San Luis Rey|
The author of the book: Thornton Wilder
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 39.11 MB
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Loaded: 2859 times
Reader ratings: 3.9
Edition: Washington Square Press, Inc.
Date of issue: 1959
ISBN: No data
ISBN 13: No data
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My ex fiance recently contacted me, interrupting my yearlong effort to convince myself I'd never hear from her again, to tell me her dad had died. It was solemn news, for I adored the man and had, once upon a time, been within a hairbreadth of being a part of his family. I searched for the proper way to respond. I went to Hyvee and looked at the sympathy cards but, seriously, they have 2 types of sympathy cards - both lame - and 4,567,987 types of cards making fun of people turning 40 (and 3% of those cards feature Chippendale-type men on them...because it's funny?).
So I went to the bookshelf and pulled down Thornton Wilder's "The Bridge of San Luis Rey." Though I tend to annotate my books, I seldom read anything twice. There are too many books and not enough life. This is a rare exception. I've read this book four times, usually after some great heartbreak - the loss of a loved one, the loss of love itself. It is a simple, yet surpassingly elegant disquisition on the nature of love.
The book starts with the collapse of a bridge outside Lima, Peru. Five people were on the bridge and fell to their deaths in a gorge. A monk named Brother Juniper uses the collapse for an investigation into the will of God. The bridge, you see, has stood for many years and safely allowed many thousands to cross the gorge. Brother Juniper wondered why, out of all the moments on earth, the bridge chose this particular time to fall, and how it came to be that these five specific people were on it at that fateful time. Brother Juniper believed that by tracing the path of each person to the bridge, he could see - to use Melville's phrase - "God's foot upon the treadle of the loom."
The book, thus, starts as an exploration of the divine plan. God is a given, but God's nature is not: "Some say that we shall never know, and to the Gods we are like the flies that 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."
Brother Juniper seeks to find out why these five were chosen to die. In successive chapters, his discoveries about each person is revealed. There is Esteban, and orphan learning hard lessons after the death of his brother; Uncle Pio, an old man rumored to be the father of a famous actress; Dona Maria, who devoted her life to her daughter; Pepita, another orphan, who was groomed to be an abbess; and Jaime, the son of the famous actress, who travels in the company of Uncle Pio.
Brother Juniper does not solve the mystery of the cosmos. His discovery is much more prosaic, how love brought each person to the bridge, a finding beautifully stated in the famous final lines of the book, the ones I often look to for comfort (and which has been oft quoted, by Tony Blair after 9/11, and after the 35W bridge collapse).
"There is a land of the living and a land of the dead, and the bridge is love, the only survival, the only meaning."
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Read information about the authorThornton Niven Wilder was an American playwright and novelist. He received three Pulitzer Prizes, one for his novel The Bridge of San Luis Rey and two for his plays Our Town and The Skin of Our Teeth, and a National Book Award for his novel The Eighth Day.
For more see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thornton...
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