by Thornton Wilder | Grades: 11-12 | Lexile Level: 1080
About The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton 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, one of the towering achievements in American fiction, and a novel read throughout the world, begins.
By fate or chance, a monk has witnessed the collapse. Brother Juniper, moved by the tragedy, embarks on a quest to prove a higher order is at work in the deaths of those who perished. His search leads readers on a timeless investigation into the nature of love and the meaning of the human condition.
Biographical Note About Thornton Wilder
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.