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A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller…

A Canticle for Leibowitz (1959)

by Walter M. Miller, Jr.

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Leibowitz (1)

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8,093221396 (3.94)1 / 388
1960s (4)
1950s (120)

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English (215)  French (3)  Finnish (1)  Italian (1)  Hebrew (1)  All (221)
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A Canticle for Liebowitz is a very highly regarded work of post-apocalyptic fiction. The story is presented in three “acts”, each roughly 600 years apart. The first act is set about 600 years post nuclear holocaust. Society has devolved into a virtual hunter/gatherer society. The scene is set at a southwestern United States monastery. The monks were tasked with collecting and safeguarding books and written material dated prior to the fall of civilization. In this part of the novel, we are given some insight into the nuclear disaster, the fallout and the collapse of society which ensued. We are also introduced to the monastery’s patron (in line for sainthood) Liebowitz, apparently a nuclear engineer who founded the order and tasked it with the preservation of textbooks and technological information.

Fast forward roughly 600 years and society has advanced to a feudal level of warring principalities. Certain budding philosophers and “scientists” have discovered the trove of data maintained by the monks. Rapacious and immoral princes and warlords are beginning to use technology to acquire increased power and territory.

Another 600 passes and society has not only reached, but far exceeded the technological advancements attained prior to the Armageddon of the 20th century. Superpower rivalry has again reached the point of nuclear confrontation in an age of interstellar travel and colonization. What roles do the monks of St. Liebowitz have in this new age? With the nuclear holocaust of the 20th century well known, how could anyone allow such a condition to develop again?

I found the book to be quite interesting and thought provoking. Having read quite a bit of post-apocalyptic literature, it touches many of the same bases, but has a broader scope, both in time frame and cultural landscape than most others I’ve read. Not the best, but well worth the time required. ( )
1 vote santhony | Feb 27, 2017 |
Interesting, but quite a quarter in. Not for me. ( )
  zyphax | Dec 27, 2016 |
Science fiction for Catholic church nerds. I had expected the church references to be ironic, but they are not. They are very much in earnest. ( )
1 vote baobab | Dec 13, 2016 |
about the future w a second darkage-about the perpetuation of knowledge & the catholic church. subtley disturbing, very. ( )
  BookstoogeLT | Dec 10, 2016 |
Much better advertisement for Catholicism than Brideshead Revisited! ( )
  davidmp | Nov 25, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 215 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (24 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Miller, Walter M., Jr.primary authorall editionsconfirmed
Feck, LouCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jones, PeterCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Marosz, JonathanNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rambelli, RobertaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Weiner, TomNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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a dedication is only a scratch where it itches - for ANNE, then in whose bosom RACHEL lies muselike guiding my clumsy song and giggling between the lines - with blessings, Lass W
First words
Brother Francis Gerard of Utah might never have discovered the blessed documents, had it not been for the pilgrim with girded loins who appeared during that young novice's Lenten fast in the desert.
There were spaceships again in that century, and the ships were manned by fuzzy impossibilities that walked on two legs and sprouted tufts of hair in unlikely anatomical regions. They were a garrulous kind. They belonged to a race quite capable of admiring its own image in a mirror, and equally capable of cutting its own throat before the alter of some tribal god, such as the deity of Daily Shaving. It was a species which often considered itself to be, basically, a race of divinely inspired tool makers; any intelligent entity from Arcturus would instantly have perceived them to be, basically, a race of impassioned after-dinner speechmakers.
“The closer men came to perfecting for themselves a paradise, the more impatient they seemed to become with it, and with themselves as well. They made a garden of pleasure, and became progressively more miserable with it as it grew into richness and power and beauty; for then, perhaps, it was easier for them to see that something was missing in the garden, some tree or shrub that would not grow. When the world was in darkness and wretchedness, it could believe in perfection and yearn for it. But when the world became bright with reason and riches, it began to sense the narrowness of the needle’s eye, and that rankled for a world no longer willing to believe or yearn. Well, they were going to destroy it again, were they-this garden Earth, civilized and knowing, to be torn apart again that Man might hope again in wretched darkness.” (page 285)
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Miller published a short story in 1955 with this title. Please do not combine the novel with the short story.
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Book description
Set in a Catholic monastery in the desert of the southwestern United States after a devastating nuclear war, the story spans thousands of years as civilization rebuilds itself. The monks of the fictional Albertian Order of Leibowitz take up the mission of preserving the surviving remnants of man's scientific knowledge until the day the outside world is again ready for it.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0060892994, Paperback)

Walter M. Miller's acclaimed SF classic A Canticle for Leibowitz opens with the accidental excavation of a holy artifact: a creased, brittle memo scrawled by the hand of the blessed Saint Leibowitz, that reads: "Pound pastrami, can kraut, six bagels--bring home for Emma." To the Brothers of Saint Leibowitz, this sacred shopping list penned by an obscure, 20th-century engineer is a symbol of hope from the distant past, from before the Simplification, the fiery atomic holocaust that plunged the earth into darkness and ignorance. As 1984 cautioned against Stalinism, so 1959's A Canticle for Leibowitz warns of the threat and implications of nuclear annihilation. Following a cloister of monks in their Utah abbey over some six or seven hundred years, the funny but bleak Canticle tackles the sociological and religious implications of the cyclical rise and fall of civilization, questioning whether humanity can hope for more than repeating its own history. Divided into three sections--Fiat Homo (Let There Be Man), Fiat Lux (Let There Be Light), and Fiat Voluntas Tua (Thy Will Be Done)--Canticle is steeped in Catholicism and Latin, exploring the fascinating, seemingly capricious process of how and why a person is canonized. --Paul Hughes

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:22 -0400)

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A monk struggles to preserve spiritual life and wisdom in the years following a nuclear holocaust.

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