The Big Read Blog (Archive)

The Bridge of Love

Washington, DC

Thornton Wilder in the role of George Antrobus in his play, The Skin of Our Teeth. Image courtesy of the Yale Collection of American Literature, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library.

On the first page of The Bridge of San Luis Rey---which is set in 18th century Peru---we learn that five people die when a bridge suddenly collapses. It's a heartbreaking moment that sets off a complex tale of love and loss. As a playwright-turned-novelist, Wilder knew a thing or two about drama and setting a scene.  In the audio clip below, you'll hear actor Sam Waterston read about the Marquesa, one of the central characters, and her epiphany about love the morning before she disappears into the abyss. Following this excerpt you'll hear from scholar and poet, J.D. McClatchy, which fades into Andrew Bird's moving cover of Bob Dylan's classic song, "Oh Sister." The lyrics help evoke the fragility of life which Wilder explores in this Pulitzer Prize-winning work.

[audio:http://bigreadblog.arts.gov//audio/WaterstonBirdWilder.mp3]

[transcript]

To hear the entire half-hour audio guide about The Bridge of San Luis Rey, please visit The Big Read website.

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