National Endowment for the Arts - The Big Read
The Bridge of San Luis Rey and Our Town

The Bridge of San Luis Rey and Our Town

by Thornton Wilder

It seems to me that my books are about: what is the worst thing that the world can do to you, and what are the last resources one has to oppose it.


Thornton Wilder in the role of George Antrobus in The Skin of Our Teeth (Yale Collection of American Literature, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library)

To know a book, you have only to read it closely. But to know a writer, one book is almost never enough. This is certainly true of Thornton Wilder. At first glance, his novel The Bridge of San Luis Rey and his play Our Town may appear to have little in common. One is about the search for meaning after a fatal bridge collapse in Peru, the other about life in a small New Hampshire town. Only after contemplating these timeless stories side by side do we begin to discover the signature they share: an appreciation for life’s preciousness in the shadow of eternity.

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