Booked All Week

and next week, too

The Bridge of San Luis Rey, by Thornton Wilder

with 2 comments

In 1714, a suspension bridge in Lima, Peru breaks and five travelers plunge quickly to their deaths. A Franciscan monk, Brother Juniper, is witness to the incident, and decides to use it as a case study in his endeavor to scientifically demonstrate divine intervention. Why, he asks, did this happen to these people in particular? Why did the bridge break when it did? Brother Juniper conducts interviews with those who knew the deceased and compiles a large book with his findings into their lives. Brother Juniper learns not only of their loves, relationships, and regrets, but also of the massive difficulty (or impossibility, perhaps) of trying to determine rationally and logically the extrinsic value of a human life. And this endeavor is not without consequence to his own safety…

The language Thornton Wilder uses is crisp, and includes not a wasted word. So much of what’s written in The Bridge of San Luis Rey is beautiful for its simplicity alone. The book reads like a collection of interwoven short stories, each featuring incredibly memorable characters and places, and the philosophical questions engaged by the story are answered gently, not zealously as I had briefly feared they would be. This is a quick read which elegantly packs complicated thought and big questions into a short, well-crafted story. I recommend it!

Written by Emily Jane

April 13, 2010 at 2:36 am

2 Responses

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  1. This sounds fascinating! I hope my library has it. 🙂


    April 15, 2010 at 4:01 am

  2. Definitely worth checking out!

    Har har.

    Emily Jane

    April 15, 2010 at 7:27 pm

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