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The Bridge of San Luis Rey
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Archive 2019 Theme Reads > 2019 April Theme: Thornton Wilder's The Bridge of San Luis Rey

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message 1: by Lesle, Appalachain Bibliophile (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lesle | 5587 comments Mod
The first few pages of the first chapter of The Bridge of San Luis Rey explain the book's basic premise: this story centers on a (fictional) event that happened in Peru on the road between Lima and Cusco, at noon on Friday, July 20, 1714. A bridge woven by the Incas a century earlier collapsed at that particular moment, while five people were crossing it. The collapse was witnessed by Brother Juniper, a Franciscan friar who was on his way to cross it. Wanting to show the world God's Divine Providence, he sets out to interview everyone he can find who knew the five victims. (138 pages)

The Bridge of San Luis Rey is American author Thornton Wilder's second novel, first published in 1927 to worldwide acclaim. The novel won the Pulitzer Prize in 1928, and was the best-selling work of fiction that year.

The book was quoted by Tony Blair during the memorial service for victims of the September 11 attacks in 2001. Quote:

"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."


message 2: by Lesle, Appalachain Bibliophile (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lesle | 5587 comments Mod
Unlike Rosemarie, I cannot read more than one book at a time. I guess my mind doesn't work that well!

I read this last week and really enjoyed it. With the loss of my Mom last year, watching the movie The Shack and now reading The Bridge of San Luis Rey has helped with some of those questions I often find myself asking.

I hope you take the time to read this Pulitzer Prize novel of what we call a Short.


message 3: by Rosemarie, Northern Roaming Scholar (new) - rated it 4 stars

Rosemarie | 8253 comments Mod
When I read this book a few years ago, I was really impressed by this amazing little book. It has such depth and the writing is outstanding.


message 4: by Eugene (new) - added it

Eugene Galt (eugenegalt) | 659 comments I read this last year. It poses some interesting philosophical issues, and I also like his writing style.


message 5: by Lesle, Appalachain Bibliophile (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lesle | 5587 comments Mod
A thought:

As a physical Bridge, it serves to represent the fragile nature of human life; it becomes, both symbolically and literally the place of transition from life to death for the five people who are crossing it when it collapses.
Metaphorically, however, the Bridge is also a transition from "the secular world"-or, in the terms of Wilder himself, the "land of the living"-and "the divine" or the "land of the dead"-"and the Bridge is love" (p. 107).
.
So in essence we all are our own bridge builders in life.


message 6: by Rosemarie, Northern Roaming Scholar (new) - rated it 4 stars

Rosemarie | 8253 comments Mod
The term "building bridges" is often used in schools to help the kids understand how to connect with people from different cultures and backgrounds.
As opposed to "building walls", which prevent interaction.


message 7: by Lesle, Appalachain Bibliophile (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lesle | 5587 comments Mod
Thats a good point Rosemarie!
Another connection of the Bridge! connecting two different worlds, more or less.


Anne Pagh | 97 comments Hopefully I'll be able to finish this tomorrow, then I'll share my thoughts about it. I found the book easy to get into.


message 9: by Lesle, Appalachain Bibliophile (last edited Apr 16, 2019 03:37AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lesle | 5587 comments Mod
"Either we live by accident and die by accident, or we live by plan and die by plan. 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."

The first part of this quote represents Brother Juniper's thesis, which he will attempt to prove in his examination of the lives of the victims of the bridge collapse.

The second part of this quote is the narrator's reflections on the two extremes of opinions regarding the role divine providence does or does not play in human life-a significant theme in the book.


message 10: by Rosemarie, Northern Roaming Scholar (new) - rated it 4 stars

Rosemarie | 8253 comments Mod
And if I remember correctly, the author leaves us pondering his thoughts.

I was really impressed by the clarity and vividness of the writing in this book.


message 11: by Lesle, Appalachain Bibliophile (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lesle | 5587 comments Mod
It has made an impact on me as I have stated in msg 2.

After reading it, I was hoping more would join in on the conversation with their thoughts about the read, present or past read.

Other than Anne is anyone else plan on reading this?


message 12: by Anne (last edited Apr 20, 2019 12:00PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Anne Pagh | 97 comments This was a small, but wonderful read. I liked how it somehow intertwines the essential and the existential, destiny and circumstance, good and bad, emotion and reason. All in such a short story.

I can't say it's given me answers per say, as I currently am pretty preoccupied with thoughts on the subject matter (e.g. THE meaning and purpose of life); but I find it speaks into the story itself, that it is right now, I find myself reading this. Coincidence? Or fate? We'll never know, and maybe that's the beauty of it.


message 13: by Lesle, Appalachain Bibliophile (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lesle | 5587 comments Mod
Appreciate your thoughts on this Anne, well said.

Sounds like we are looking for two different reasons:
You the purpose of life.
Me the why of tragic loss.


Blueberry (blueberry1) | 773 comments Finished. Very well written.


message 15: by Lesle, Appalachain Bibliophile (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lesle | 5587 comments Mod
Thank you for joining in Blueberry!


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