Column Editor: Donna Jacobs (Research Specialist, Transgenic Mouse Core Facility, MUSC, Charleston, SC 29425)

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Bridges are powerful both as structures and symbols. They connect us, as the 37 bridges across the Seine connect the city of Paris. Bridges can also isolate us. Any of the 231 bridges that cross the Mississippi River will facilitate a journey between East and West, but they cannot take us to the world of Mark Twain. The river was his world, not a muddy wet obstacle to bypass.

Bridge the Gap. Build a Bridge and get over it. Cross that Bridge when I come to it. Bridging Time. Bridge over Troubled Waters. Water under the Bridge. These common sayings have become part of our everyday speech, often mean quite different things, and the opportunity for overuse is ever present. For I’m sure I will find these words coming out of my mouth sooner than later. A Google search on “bridge definition” further expanded this train of thought beyond where I wanted to contemplate.

Yet on a recent trip to Blue Bicycle Books I discovered Ivo Andrić’s book The Bridge on the Drina while perusing the alphabetically organized fiction section of the store with my Nobel Literature Laureate List in hand. The Bridge on the Drina is part of what is known as the Bosnian Trilogy written while Andrić was living quietly in Belgrade during World War II. His Nobel Prize recognition came in 1961. Soon my thoughts on building bridges, words about bridges and this column were colliding. As I touched the edge of the binding to remove the book from the shelf my mind began to wander to the Cooper River Bridges. I was completely fascinated with the recent construction of the Arthur Ravenel, Jr. cable stay bridge, the longest in North America. I also watched the complicated orchestrated destruction of the two previous bridges that spanned the Cooper River that separates the peninsula of Charleston from Mount Pleasant and points North. The life of the Lowcountry has been forever changed by these bridges.

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