Short summary - The Bridge - Iain Menzies Banks

British literature summaries - 2020

Short summary - The Bridge
Iain Menzies Banks


We literally burst into the stream of consciousness of the hero, which conveys his sensations from the "interweaving" with the wreckage of the machine. We understand that this man had an accident and is on the verge of life and death. He himself is aware of his “problem” and discusses this in a tone that is not without irony and even self-irony.


Chapter one

John Orr tells Dr. Joyce an intricate dream of his own. The fact is that the doctor is trying to cure Orr from memory loss, analyzing his dreams. But John never tells his real dreams, considering them trivial or simply very chaotic. This scene takes place on the tennis court: between the doctor and the patient there is a kind of double duel (and both of them are won by Orr).

The doctor offers Orr himself to decipher his dreams by linking them to a bridge. We learn that John Orr was caught by the services of the Bridge without memory and without documents. He was given a new name, handed a bracelet, which gives him the right to a comfortable and even luxurious life on the Bridge.

John Orr made attempts to find out something about his past, as well as about the Bridge: about its size, date of appearance, etc. But all his attempts were in vain due to the bureaucratic red tape that dominates the Bridge.

Arriving at home in the evening, John turns on the TV, which starts showing only one black and white picture: a man in a hospital bed, surrounded by medical equipment. Orr writes a new dream for the doctor and writes it down.

Chapter two

The content of the dream: sea battle.

Orr makes his morning toilet (with a claim to elegance), reflecting on the structure of public life, when suddenly the TV itself turns on and again shows yesterday an obscure image. Orr tries to call the repairmen by phone, but finds out that the phone does not work either (a symbolic separation of the hero from the world of the Bridge begins to occur).

Orr is having breakfast at the Breakfast on the Grass diner with a fellow hospital engineer, Brooke. From their conversation we learn that Orr is not able to be satisfied with the meager information about the Bridge, about life outside it, which Brooke and other residents of this state are used to content with.

Orr goes to the doctor, but there he meets only workers who stubbornly do not answer his questions: perhaps they simply do not understand him, since Orr speaks only an administrative dialect. He finds out the doctor’s new address at the reception and visits him. Tells a fictional dream and performs a psychological test.

Wandering along the upper tier of the Bridge, Orr discovers an old elevator, with an old elevator sleeping in it. He, at the request of Orr, takes him to the trains, but on the plan John discovers the Third City Library and asks the elevator to change direction. From this abrupt change, the old man falls from his chair, the mirror in the elevator breaks, and the lamp and plaster come off the ceiling. On the floor where the library should be located, some kind of catastrophe happened: sirens howl, thick smoke hangs, wounded are carried ... Some clerk with a mouthpiece chases Orra. He heads to the tennis club, from where he calls the repair service.

A telephone rings at Orr's house, but when he picks up the phone, only beeps are heard ...

Chapter three

Orr dreams of a ruined city by the sea, which seems vaguely familiar to him. There he meets a humpbacked dwarf scourging the sea with an iron chain. Between them there is a conversation. Orr walks away, feeling a cast-iron bracelet that he had not previously noticed, tinkling rhythmically on his wrist.

Orr wakes up in the middle of the night and sees the usual picture on the TV, but this time a nurse appears who gives an injection to the patient. Orr also feels the pain of an injection.

Orru calls Brooke and invites him to the Dissy Pitton bar and urges him to bring his wide-brimmed hat with him. Orr, perplexed, arrives at a bar where Brooke and his friends engineers (all fairly drunk) ask him to look after Miss Errol, because they go to the brothel, and her brother sleeps face in a plate. A wide-brimmed hat was needed by some engineer, their friend, but he had already left.

Orr meets Abberline Errol, a pretty, elegant girl, the daughter of a chief engineer. She carries away without luring, swallows, without swallowing.

Then Orr wanders around the compartments of the Bridge, looking for that elevator, but he fell as if underground. Orr observes that all manifestations of art here, whether painting or architecture, are connected with the Bridge: people are depicted as bridges, and the Bridge as people. Orru is disgusted by such art, from which it breathes fatigue and degeneration.

Arriving home, John sees the same picture and feels the same pain from the injection.

Chapter Four

In this chapter, the protagonist is a young, empty-headed grunt warrior, whose speech leaves much to be desired. He, having killed the old wizard, takes the magic talking bird, which sits on his shoulder and non-stop discusses on different topics so that the barbarian absolutely does not understand anything. He searches for “redhead” in the castle of the sorceress: he passes through a harem of crippled women whom he craves, the eunuch kills. The "barbarian" does not find the barbarian, but the "little star" fights with the queen and disappears.

John Orr wakes up and is disgusted with himself because he longed for maimed women: he was a grunt in a dream! Orr glances at the TV screen and sees a poor patient who is turned on his stomach - he feels physical pain.

Orr meets with a doctor who tells his fictional dreams. But, to his horror, Joyce asks him questions about the hunchback dwarf and the harem-related sleep and suggests thinking of a new treatment: hypnosis.

In frustrated feelings, Orr meets Ebberline, who rides in a rickshaw and offers to give him a ride. Due to the fog and love of the girl for high speed, their rickshaw crashes. Orr hits his head hard, and Abberline Orr, who smashes his nose, gives his white handkerchief. She promises to make herself known.

At home, Orr finds Butch's hat returned, which he throws out in a big way from the balcony.


The stream of consciousness of a person in an accident, who is taken to the hospital. But the voice of a barbarian wedges into his mind, which interrupts another voice with the words "ghost capital."

The capital of ghosts is the city in which the hero lives. The following is a story about his very ordinary childhood, admission to the institute and his acquaintance with Andrea Cramon. They started dating, often walking along the Fort Bridge, which struck him as a child, and besides, was the same color as her red-red hair.

He is inclined to take life rationally, and Andrea is sensitive.


Chapter one

Orr dreams of the life of an engineer.

In the morning he receives an invitation from Ebberline to meet her: she wants to draw at the sorting station. John is going to her, after writing a letter to the doctor with the refusal of hypnosis. Suddenly, there is a knock on the door: they came to repair the TV and phone. However, something happened to the door: it does not open. After a while, the janitor comes and breaks the door (the repairmen have already left).

John meets with Ebberline, who returns a handkerchief to him. While Ebberline draws from life one of the sections of the Bridge, they talk about life on the Bridge, about its structure. She gives Orr a sketch of a man running away from a train.

Chapter two

Orr dreams of how he runs, sandwiched with rails on both sides. Behind the whistle of a locomotive is heard, but John cannot escape, cannot deviate from the track on rails.

Orr is greatly alarmed by sleep. He continues to ponder what the Bridge is. A search for the library again does not bring results.

Arriving home, Orr discovers workers carrying his furniture. It turns out that due to the fact that Orr did not give consent to be treated through hypnosis, the doctor excluded him from his patients. And since all things were purchased by John for a hospital allowance, for which he, in fact, existed, now the hospital administration confiscates everything and evicts to the level where some workers live. And even provides new clothes: poisonous green overalls! Orr is only allowed to take a scarf on which Errol embroidered a monogram, and give it a sketch of it.

A call to the doctor’s clinic does not give results, because the doctor went to some meeting.

At U-7 level, Orr met Lynch, who had come to visit a brand new neighbor. He kindly feeds Orr in the dining room and even offers money on loan.

Orr is trying to get in touch with Brooke, but when he arrives at the Dissy Pitton he is met with complete misunderstanding and even a few blows from a doorman who does not want to let a persistent hard worker enter the bar. Beaten, Orr barely gets home and plunges into a painful drowsiness.

Chapter three

Orr dreams that he is on an iron bridge crossing a small rivulet awash with carnivorous fish. On the opposite shore there are women who call and beckon him all the time. He goes all the time, runs to them, but the bridge is a part of the surface of the cylinder and always returns it to the middle of the river. No matter what maneuvers he tries to outsmart the bridge, everything is useless; you cannot fool the bridge. Once, when there was no fog, he saw that he was not alone: both above and downstream there are similar structures, the same women ... He looks at one of the prisoners who is running along his bridge and suddenly jumping into the river: the suicide was torn to pieces in an instant ...

In the morning, Orr receives his new allowance, half of which was held by a handkerchief and a hat. For half the remaining funds, he buys a long used coat that hides a green robe. They disdainfully admit him to the doctor: Orr was transferred to a new doctor who does nothing to help him.

Mr. Lynch brings Orr a letter from Ebberline that the postman left at the door.

Ebberline brings Orra his brother’s clothes and places him in an apartment that their family does not use.

Chapter Four

Grunt, having acquired a new magical item - a talking knife - went to the Underworld (to search for a sleeping beauty), where he met Tantalus, whom he helped put a stone on the mountain, Prometheus, who freed him from the tormenting bird, and then the “freak freak in black trousers” "- Charon. Charon agrees to transport the barbarian across the river behind the head of the Ser-Bere, which would be the decoration of his boat. Grunt kills Cerberus, and then Medusa Gorgon, who met him along the way. He found Sleeping Beauty, who turned out to be Beauty. The barbarian decided to kill him, but the head of the red-haired girl who appeared from the wall warned him: if he kills the Beauty, then his spirit will move into the body of the barbarian and take possession of him. The barbarian obeyed her and, grabbing the redhead found there, went to Charon, but not with the head of Cerberus, because he fell into a cliff, but with the head of the Gorgon Medusa. From such a gift Charon freezes and, breaking through the bottom of the boat, drowns with it. A barbarian dog-like crosses the river. The red-haired frog, which he found, turns into the already familiar "little animal".

The next day, Ebberline visits Orra. An intimate scene takes place between them: “I lift the girl, suddenly realizing my presence in her, in this construction made of dark materials, and at the very moment when I tighten my muscles, when I push her weight up, I suddenly feel a bridge over us, this a giant, towering in a gray evening, a structure with its own patterns, with its countless X's, with its pillars ... He is above us, above me. He's crushing ... It hurts me. I have run out. It feels like a whole bridge is fucked up. ”

After leaving Abberline, John discovers a television in the apartment, again working in the old mode ... The phone still emits short beeps. Orr leaves the house and comes to a catastrophe: a train rolled over on the railway tracks. John begins to help carry the wounded and, at the request of the doctor, holds with his hand a bleeding artery of some person. Orru becomes ill and he makes his way between the wounded in the toilet of the carriage. After a while, the train starts moving: it turns out that it has long been empty. Orr remains moving in an unknown direction. Orr throws his hospital bracelet out of the window.


The interweaving of consciousness Orr, Scottish engineer and barbarian.

Andrea received the coveted degree. It occurred to him to formulate a relationship, but he did not want to make a concession to the state and the Church. In addition, he understood that Andrea would most likely respond with a refusal. She went to Paris to study Russian. Before leaving, they walked and looked together at the North Queensferry Bridge. It turns out that this bridge will be painted: "three fucking years."

He worked successfully, always finding excuses, so as not to be in Paris.

He began dating a young nurse, knowing that Andrea also had someone in Paris. His mother died, Andrea came to the funeral. Andrea's father dies from a heart attack while driving a car, she returns to Edinburgh.



Orr continues to ride the train, hoping to eventually get to the Kingdom or City. On the road, he had a recurring dream about someone's land life. For several days he became exhausted from hunger, however, despite several opportunities to jump, Orr continues his journey. In the end, the train filled with passengers and Orra was discovered and dropped off in the Republic, a cold concentric territory. He was settled in a hut with hundreds of other people. He is a kind of prisoner among other prisoners and guards. Orra is haunted by dreams of war and death. It turns out that everyone has a dream here.


Engineer meets old university friend Sean. They listen to old records.

Orr was appointed as a waiter on the train, because he had little understanding of the dialect that everyone spoke: so he escaped the worst fate. Gradually the whole train became armored, and only officers rode on the train. They were attacked from the air, they took the wounded, unloaded tanks and cars. The car in which Orr was just was detached from the general structure and rolled down a stone scree. Field marshal bandits invaded the car to loot and kill the wounded. As Orr unconsciously spoke something in their own language and applied the head of the senior waiter to what was left, they became interested in the captive and took him to the field marshal. Now, Orra has been demoted: now his job is to tell stories from his past life to field marshal and his gang of notorious murderers. By the way, the Abberline scarf was taken away from Orr: now the field marshal blew his nose. His favorite pastimes were throwing soldiers into lakes of boiling mud and driving the captive captive in front of the train. When the bomber attacked, Orr and ten other people managed to jump off the train and were now in an abandoned city. One day, the field marshal summoned Orr to him and told him to stick a machine gun barrel between his buttocks when he was raping a pig. But Orr does not stand it and breaks his skull with a machine gun. Orr finds the uniform of an officer, changes into her, takes a handkerchief from the murdered and runs away. One day, the field marshal summoned Orr to him and told him to stick a machine gun barrel between his buttocks when he was raping a pig. But Orr does not stand it and breaks his skull with a machine gun. Orr finds the uniform of an officer, changes into her, takes a handkerchief from the murdered and runs away. One day, the field marshal summoned Orr to him and told him to stick a machine gun barrel between his buttocks when he was raping a pig. But Orr does not stand it and breaks his skull with a machine gun. Orr finds the uniform of an officer, changes into her, takes a handkerchief from the murdered and runs away.


Andrea returned from Paris and settled in an old house with her mother. He earned more and more, bought more and more expensive cars, but the bald spot on the back of his head was getting bigger ... She translated from Russian, was successfully published in Scottish and Parisian magazines. They were together, however, made short-term novels on the side. His father is dying.

Once Andrea returns from Paris, as if dipped in water. Mrs. Cramon tells him that Gustav has multiple sclerosis. Now Andrea spent there as much time as in Scotland: there was no one to look after Gustav. He felt sorry for Gustav and hated him for taking Andrea from him. He hated himself for hating him.

He began to abuse drugs, feeling now twice as young, then twice as old. Gustav began to need constant care: Andrea would stay in Paris and if his family insisted, he would have to arrange a marriage ...

Rubaka lived to a very old age, which is rarely found among people like him. He was assisted by a talisman, which he brought out of the Underworld. Now the animal is trying to return youth to the barbarian, since only he of the two of them has a human body. They took possession of the flying castle and from there try to find the source of youth. But a huge grunt bursts into the castle, helped by magical powers, namely a helmet. He kills the old Grunt, and at the same time the animal disappears from his shoulder.


The engineer fairly drank and smoked herbs with his friend Stuart, whom he met on the eve of Christmas. He decides to talk with Andrea about their relationship, explain to her how much he loves her, that he wants to spend her whole life with her. He calls her, but for a long time he hears only short beeps: probably chatting with Gustav - this is for a long time. And he decides to go to her immediately and, despite the fact that he is drunk, gets behind the wheel, promising himself to be careful. But, having deepened his thoughts, he ceases to control the situation on the road and gets into an accident.

Orr smells the blood and sees around the alleged consequences of a great battle: the bodies of all kinds of animals, people of all races and skin colors. Above them is the same little man who beat the waves of the sea with a cast-iron flail, only now the sea is human bodies: for every body there are exactly one hundred blows. The dwarf speaks to Orr and gives him the three tambourines. Orr asks what happened here? Then the dwarf replies that they all did not listen to their dreams.

Orr continued on the course of the field marshal. He had the same dream every night: a nameless engineer.

He walks through the desert for many days, he has no more water, and Orr exhausted falls to the sand, from where he can no longer rise. And suddenly he sees a young warrior haggard by the sun in a helmet, who dies when he falls on Orr. Orr grabs two birds of prey, who flew to peck his eyes, and gets drunk with their thick, salty blood.

Orr sees a bridge that lies in ruins: it is withered, bony, broken. He is not alive or dead. Orr surrenders because he realizes that everything is a dream in any sense of the word. He lies on a bed under a dropper. He guesses that he is on a bridge, in one of his hollow metal bones. He is a detail of the machine. He decides to go to sleep.


In his mind, there is a struggle between the desire to distance oneself from everything, calmly leave, die and the desire to live for the sake of a beloved woman and for the sake of life itself. The machine dominates him, describing what to do. But he frees himself from her strength and revitalizes himself by effort of will: he woke up and saw Andrea Kramon next to his bed.