The Big Read Blog (Archive)


June 5, 2009
Washington, DC

Another sneak peek this morning at Thornton Wilder, who is debuting on The Big Read list this fall. As I read through an advance copy of the Reader?s Guide to The Bridge of San Luis Rey and Our Town, I was struck by the opening quote, taken  from a 1929 letter by 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. In other words: when a human being is made to bear more than human beings can bear?what then??
Wilder?s description of his work aptly describes the central conflict in several Big Read titles, The Grapes of Wrath, The Things They Carried, and A Lesson Before Dying, to name a few. It also resonates with one of my favorite passages from another Big Read author, Ernest Hemingway. This quote from A Farewell to Arms seems perhaps a kind of answer or corollary to Wilder?s.

If people bring so much courage to this world the world has to kill them to break them, so of course it kills them. The world breaks every one and afterward many are strong at the broken places.?
Your thoughts?

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