1 May

The hardcover of this First Perennial Classics’ Edition was originally published in 1927 by Albert & Charles Boni, Inc. – Perennial, an imprint of Harper Collins was published in 1998. The latter is the novella I now hold.

Of course, I’ve already read the Foreword and Afterword. The remainder of this remarkable feast will be savored tonight.

Thornton Niven Wilder (1897-1975) is the only writer to have won The Pulitzer Prize for both Fiction and Drama. American playwright and novelist, he built a house in Hamden, Connecticut with the royalties from this book, and often referred to it as the house The Bridge built. He died there, from a heart attack, on December 7, 1975.

I imagine not many, in this day, are familiar with his body of work. Most notable, perhaps, is Our Town: a play, produced and published in 1938; Shadow of a Doubt: a screenplay written for Alfred Hitchcock in 1943; and Matchmaker: adapted for the musical Hello Dolly. This, The Bridge of San Luis Rey won Thornton Wilder the Pulitzer Prize in 1928.

This story is about a Franciscan monk who witnesses the tragic collapse of an Inca rope bridge in San Luis Rey, Peru in 1714 – and the five people who perish as a result. Was it mere chance or destiny that these five found themselves on the bridge at just this moment? Haunted by some underlying explanation, Brother Juniper takes us on his quest to find the answer, while Wilder enlightens the reader as to the allusion of human existence: ‘Is there a direction and meaning in lives beyond the individual’s own will?’

I am most eager to fall into the 18th century and walk along with Brother Juniper as he *“….. interprets the story of each victim in an attempt to explain the workings of divine providence.”  *The Merriam-Webster Encyclopedia of Literature


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