The Bridge of San Luis Rey Quotes

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The Bridge of San Luis Rey The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder
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“The knowledge that she would never be loved in return acted upon her ideas as a tide acts upon cliffs.”
Thornton Wilder, The Bridge of San Luis Rey
“There is a land of the living and a land of the dead and the bridge is love, the only survival, the only meaning.”
Thornton Wilder, The Bridge of San Luis Rey
“Now he discovered that secret from which one never quite recovers, that even in the most perfect love one person loves less profoundly than the other. There may be two equally good, equally gifted, equally beautiful, but there may never be two that love one another equally well.”
Thornton Wilder, The Bridge of San Luis Rey
tags: love
“Some say that we shall never know, and that to the gods we are like the flies that the boys kill on a summer's day, and some say, to the contrary, that the very sparrows do not lose a feather that has not been brushed away by the finger of God.”
Thornton Wilder, The Bridge of San Luis Rey
“We ourselves shall be loved for awhile 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.”
Thornton Wilder, The Bridge of San Luis Rey
“[Dona Maria] saw that the people of this world moved about in an armor of egotism, drunk with self-gazing, athirst for compliments, hearing little of what was said to them, unmoved by the accidents that befell their closest friends, in dread of all appeals that might interrupt their long communion with their own desires.”
Thornton Wilder, The Bridge of San Luis Rey
“Either we live by accident and die by accident, or we live by plan and die by plan.”
Thornton Wilder, The Bridge of San Luis Rey
“This assumption that she need look for no more devotion now that her beauty had passed proceeded from the fact that she had never realized any love save love as passion. Such love, though it expends itself in generosity and thoughtfulness, though it give birth to visions and to great poetry, remains among the sharpest expressions of self-interest. Not until it has passed through a long servitude, through its own self-hatred, through mockery, through great doubts, can it take its place among the loyalties. Many who have spent a lifetime in it can tell us less of love than the child that lost a dog yesterday.”
Thornton Wilder, The Bridge of San Luis Rey
“The public for which masterpieces are intended is not of this earth.”
Thornton Wilder, The Bridge of San Luis Rey
“the whole purport of literature...is the notation of the heart. Style is but the faintly contemptible vessel in which the bitter liquid is recommended to the world.”
Thornton Wilder, The Bridge of San Luis Rey
“Throughout the hours of the night, though there had been few to hear it, the whole sky had been loud with the singing of these constellations.”
Thornton Wilder, The Bridge of San Luis Rey
“Esteban fell face downward upon the floor. "I am alone, alone, alone," he cried. The Captain stood above him, his great plain face ridged and gray with pain; it was his own old hours he was reliving. He was the awkwardest speaker in the world apart from the lore of the sea, but there are times when it requires a high courage to speak the banal. He could not be sure the figure on the floor was listening, but he said, "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.”
Thornton Wilder, The Bridge of San Luis Rey
“The knowledge that she would never be loved in return acted upon her ideas as a tide acts upon cliffs. Her religious beliefs went first, for all she could ask of a god, or of immortality, was the gift of a place where daughters love their mothers; the other attributes of Heaven you could have for a song. Next she lost her belief in the sincerity of those about her. She secretly refused to believe that anyone (herself excepted) loved anyone. All families lived in a wasteful atmosphere of custom and kissed one another with secret indifference. She saw that the people of this world moved about in an armor of egotism, drunk with self-gazing, athirst for compliments, hearing little of what was said to them, unmoved by the accidents that befell their closest friends, in dread of all appeals that might interrupt their long communion with their own desires. These were the sons and daughters of Adam from Cathay to Peru. And when on the balcony her thoughts reached this turn, her mouth would contract with shame for she knew that she too sinned and that though her love for her daughter was vast enough to include all the colors of love, it was not without a shade of tyranny: she loved her daughter not for her daughter's sake, but for her own. She longed to free herself from this ignoble bond; but the passion was too fierce to cope with.”
Thornton Wilder, The Bridge of San Luis Rey
“He regarded love as a sort of cruel malady through which the elect are required to pass in their late youth and from which they emerge, pale and wrung, but ready for the business of living.”
Thornton Wilder, The Bridge of San Luis Rey
“[Camila] was quite incapable of establishing any harmony between the claims of her art, of her appetites, or her dreams, and of her crowded daily routine. Each of these was a world in itself.”
Thornton Wilder, The Bridge of San Luis Rey
“He divided the inhabitants of this world into two groups, into those who had loved and those who had not. It was a horrible aristocracy, apparently, for those who had no capacity for love (or rather for suffering in love) could not be said to be alive and certainly would not live again after their death. They were a kind of straw population, filling the world with their meaningless laughter and tears and chatter and disappearing still lovable and vain into thin air. For this distinction he cultivated his own definition of love that was like no other and that had gathered all its bitterness and pride from his odd life. He regarded love as a sort of cruel malady through which the elect are required to pass in their late youth and from which they emerge, pale and wrung, but ready for the business of living. There was (he believed) a great repertory of errors mercifully impossible to human beings who had recovered from this illness. Unfortunately there remained to them a host of failings, but at least (from among many illustrations) they never mistook a protracted amiability for the whole conduct of life, they never again regarded any human being, from a prince to a servant, as a mechanical object.”
Thornton Wilder, The Bridge of San Luis Rey
“But such occasions of excellence became less and less frequent. As her technique became sounder, [her] sincerity became less necessary.”
Thornton Wilder, The Bridge of San Luis Rey
“It was full of wounding remarks rather brilliantly said, perhaps said for the sheer virtuosity of giving pain neatly. Each of its phrases found its way through the eyes of the Marquesa, then, carefully wrapped in understanding and forgiveness, it sank into her heart.”
Thornton Wilder, The Bridge of San Luis Rey
“Like all solitary persons he had invested friendship with a divine glamour: he imagined that the people he passed on the street, laughing together and embracing when they parted, the people who dined together with so many smiles, you will scarcely believe me, but he imagined that they were extracting from all that congeniality great store of satisfaction.”
Thornton Wilder, The Bridge of San Luis Rey
“Her religious beliefs went first, for all she could ask of a god, or of immortality, was the gift of a place where daughters love their mothers; the other attributes of Heaven you could have for a song.”
Thornton Wilder, The Bridge of San Luis Rey
“If there were any plan in the universe at all, if there were any pattern in human life, surely it could be discovered mysteriously latent in those lives so suddenly cut off. Either we live by accident and die by accident, or we live by plan and die by plan.”
Thornton Wilder, The Bridge of San Luis Rey
“The art of biography is more difficult than is generally supposed.”
Thornton Wilder, The Bridge of San Luis Rey
“All of us have failed. One wishes to be punished. One is willing to assume all kinds of penance, but do you know, my daughter, that in love -- I scarcely dare say it -- but in love our very mistakes don't seem to be able to last long?”
Thornton Wilder, The Bridge of San Luis Rey
“Henceforth letter-writing had to take the place of all the affection that could not be lived.”
Thornton Wilder, The Bridge of San Luis Rey
“It required all his delicate Epicurean education to prevent his doing something about it; he had to repeat over to himself his favorite notions: that the injustice and unhappiness in the world is a constant; that the theory of progress is a delusion; that the poor, never having known happiness, are insensible to misfortune. Like all the rich he could not bring himself to believe that the poor (look at their houses, look at their clothes) could really suffer. Like all the cultivated he believed that only the widely read could be said to know that they were unhappy.”
Thornton Wilder, The Bridge of San Luis Rey
“On Friday noon, July twentieth, 1714, the finest bridge in all Peru broke and precipitated five travellers into the gulf below.”
Thornton Wilder, The Bridge of San Luis Rey
“The Marquesa would even have been astonished to learn that her letters were very good, for such authors live always in the noble weather of their own minds and those productions which seem remarkable to us are little better than a day's routine to them.”
Thornton Wilder, The Bridge of San Luis Rey
“Style is but the faintly contemptible vessel in which the bitter liquid is recommended to the world.”
Thornton Wilder, The Bridge of San Luis Rey
“He respected the slight nervous shadow that crossed her face when he came too near her. But there arose out of this denial itself the perfume of a tenderness, that ghost of passion which, in the most unexpected relationship, can make even a whole lifetime devoted to irksome duty pass like a gracious dream.”
Thornton Wilder, The Bridge of San Luis Rey
“He had lost that privilege of simple nature, the dissociation of love and pleasure. Pleasure was no longer as simple as eating; it was being complicated by love. Now was beginning that crazy loss of one's self, that neglect of everything but one's dramatic thoughts about the beloved, that feverish inner life all turning upon the [loved one].”
Thornton Wilder, The Bridge of San Luis Rey
tags: love

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