Synopses & Reviews
This beautiful new edition features unpublished notes for the novel and other illuminating documentary material, all of which is included in a new Afterword by Tappan Wilder.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 Wilders 1928 Pulitzer Prize winning novel contains a new foreword by Russell Banks.
About the Author
Thornton Wilder (1897-1975) was an accomplished novelist and playwright whose works, exploring the connection between the commonplace and cosmic dimensions of human experience, continue to be read and produced around the world. His Bridge of San Luis Rey, one of seven novels, won the Pulitzer Prize in 1928, as did two of his four full-length dramas, Our Town (1938) and The Skin of Our Teeth (1943). Wilder's The Matchmaker was adapted as the musical Hello, Dolly!. He also enjoyed enormous success with many other forms of the written and spoken word, among them teaching, acting, the opera, and films. (His screenplay for Hitchcock's Shadow of Doubt  remains a classic psycho-thriller to this day.) Wilder's many honors include the Gold Medal for Fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and the National Book Committee's Medal for Literature.
An Instructor's Guide to "
The Bridge of San Luis Rey
by Thornton Wilder Note to Teachers Themes: destiny, divinity, salvation Set in colonial Peru in the early 18th century" style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">, The Bridge of San Luis Rey opens in the aftermath of an inexplicable tragedy a tiny foot-bridge breaks, and five people hurtle to their deaths. For Brother Juniper, the Franciscan monk who witnesses the accident, the question is inescapable. Why these five? Suddenly, Brother Juniper is committed to discover what manner of lives they led, and to determine whether it was divine intervention or a capricious fate that claimed them. He begins his investigation into the lives of the five victims, up to the moment they crossed the bridge, and through his diligence we meet: the Marquesa de Montemayor, an elderly aristocrat who lives only for her daughter, and the Marquesa s servant girl, Pepita; Esteban, an identical twin consumed with love for his brother; and Uncle Pio, a wise and wily old man who is taking Don Jaime, a sickly boy, to Lima to be educated as a gentleman. The last chapter returns to Brother Juniper, who finally completes his vast tome about the five lives that were ended with the bridge collapse. For his efforts, he is condemned as a heretic and burned, along with his book, on Lima s central square. Since its publication in 1927," style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">The Bridge of San Luis Rey continues to be widely read and discussed as a masterpiece of American literature. Its precise, restrained narration earned Wilder the first of his three Pulitzer Prizes and it remains oneof the greatest reading novels in this century s American writing (Edmund Fuller). Thornton Wilder (1897-1975) wrote the classic plays" style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Our Town, The Skin of Our Teeth, and" style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">The Matchmaker. His novels include" style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">The Eighth Day and" style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Theophilus North. Questions for Classroom Discussion Wilder writes that Esteban discovers that secret from which one never quite recovers, that even in the most perfect love one person loves less profoundly than the other. Do you agree that there can never be two people that love one another equally? How do two people survive in an unequal relationship?" style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal"> Several critics have pointed out that the characters in Wilder s plays are types the mother, the young girl, the embodiment of evil rather than realistic human figures. What about the characters in" style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">The Bridge of San Luis Rey the Marquesa, the Perichole, Manuel and Esteban, Uncle Pio: are they types too? For his efforts to seek meaning in the accident, Brother Juniper is burned as a heretic. Discuss the role of religion in the book and Wilder s attitude toward religion. Consider not only Brother Juniper s fate but also the thoughts and deeds of the Abbess Madre Maria del Pilar and the apparent religious conversion of Camila Perichole. In a sense," style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">The Bridge of San Luis Rey can be read as a novel about meaning: how we assign and perceive meaning,how accidents and coincidences take on meaning in our daily lives. What conclusion does Wilder lead us to draw about the human endeavor to find meaning in the world? Wilder once declared, I am not an innovator but a rediscoverer of forgotten goods. Discuss" style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">The Bridge of San Luis Rey in the light of this remark. What particular forgotten goods has he rediscovered? The Abbess Madre Maria del Pilar concludes that, in the end, it is love that gives meaning to life, that between the land of the living and the land of the dead, the bridge is love, the only survival, the only meaning. In what ways did love give meaning to the lives of the five victims? In what ways did love fail them?