Check out the Pride Celebration Treasure Hunt!
This site uses cookies to deliver our services, improve performance, for analytics, and (if not signed in) for advertising. By using LibraryThing you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your use of the site and services is subject to these policies and terms.
Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller…

A Canticle for Leibowitz (original 1959; edition 2006)

by Walter M. Miller Jr.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
8,961247537 (3.95)1 / 435
Title:A Canticle for Leibowitz
Authors:Walter M. Miller Jr.
Info:Eos (2006), Paperback, 352 pages
Collections:Science Fiction, Your library
Tags:Science Fiction, Science Fiction (post-apocalyptic)

Work details

A Canticle for Leibowitz by Jr. Walter M. Miller (1959)

1960s (4)
1950s (137)

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

English (241)  French (3)  Finnish (1)  Italian (1)  Hebrew (1)  All languages (247)
Showing 1-5 of 241 (next | show all)
I was eager to read this considering all the public acclaim, but I have to admit that it didn't hit the mark for me.

The first section of the book had me believing this was going to be an all time favorite of mine. It was intelligent and funny and witty. I simply loved everything about it. However, the 2nd and 3rd sections lacked the charm and humor that engaged me initially. The writing was still skillful but the story became convoluted and directionless for me. The message of humanity's pursuit of the very knowledge that once nearly destroyed it never got lost, but I couldn't help but be disappointed as the story went on. ( )
  BlackAsh13 | Jun 8, 2019 |
A Canticle for Leibowitz is a classic that was published in the late 1950’s. I had really mixed feelings about it. It was funny and yet depressing, interesting and yet also boring at times. I think I enjoyed it best in the earlier parts.

The book is split up into three stories that take place over hundreds of years. When it begins, we quickly learn that we’re in a post-apocalyptic setting. Earth had long ago destroyed itself with war, and much knowledge was lost because the survivors blamed science and scientists and tried to destroy both. The setting is mostly centered on an abbey dedicated to a scientific martyr named Leibowitz, and “Memorabilia” is reverently collected and stored until the day when mankind is willing and able to use it wisely. The Catholic religion plays a heavy role in this book.

Although the story has a serious tone, and is really rather depressing, there’s also some humor, especially in the first story. It was kind of a subtle humor sometimes, or maybe it was just unexpected due to the tone. Sometimes something I had read a sentence or two ago would belatedly hit me and make me laugh out loud.

I enjoyed the first two stories, but didn’t care for the third one as much where the story more often took a backseat to the philosophizing. In general I think this is one of those books where the main purpose was the message rather than the story. That can be problematic for me because the message is usually one I’ve already heard and/or read many times as was definitely the case with this book. Of course, that’s probably largely due to the influence of this very book, but for me, reading it decades later, the story needs to be that much more enjoyable to counteract the familiar message.

One comment for the spoiler tags: I was expecting some sort of scene at the end with Benjamin/Lazarus/whoever-he-was to provide some additional closure. He was a constant throughout the book as well as being there at the very beginning, so I expected him at the very end too. I guess what I was really expecting was some sort of reaction from him about Rachel. ( )
2 vote YouKneeK | May 27, 2019 |
This is the genre at it's best. It is to post-apocalyptic fiction what Fahrenheit 451 is to dystopia. ( )
  Zoes_Human | Apr 28, 2019 |
The first half was good, showing how people renewed civilization after a nuclear war, but the ending was very depressing. ( )
  nhlsecord | Mar 11, 2019 |
A great indictment against the paranoia and war-mongering infecting politics, 'A Canticle for Leibowitz' is as powerful today as I imagine it was when it was first published 50 years ago. It has had its fair share of imitators, but I haven't read the book that has touched on these themes with such huge scope and such elegance. By all rights the book should be disjointed, with, on the surface, the only common elements being its setting in a small abbey in the Midwest and a Wandering Jew character.

Its a very Catholic book and I didn't even try to parse out the Latin, besides the obvious, but the idea of laborious preservation and monastic guardianship against the loss of everything is inspired. Reading this book, if nothing else, finally made me understand why so much writing has been lost. I'm impressed we have as much as we do from ancient times.

The story lagged for me in several parts of the last section, but it ends as tight as a fist. In that endless argument of Literature vs. genre-writing, this one is one of the stronger examples we have for the defense.

A sequel does exist, but I doubt I'll get to it.


Next: 'Saint Leibowitz and the Wild Horse Woman' ( )
1 vote ManWithAnAgenda | Feb 18, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 241 (next | show all)
no reviews | add a review

» Add other authors (22 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
Picacio, JohnCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rambelli, RobertaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Russell, Mary DoriaIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Serrano, ErvinCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Viskupic, GaryCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Weiner, TomNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
a dedication is only
a scratch where it itches—
for ANNE, then
in whose bosom RACHEL lies
guiding my clumsy song
and giggling between the lines
—with blessings, Lass
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)
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Miller published a short story in 1955 with this title. Please do not combine the novel with the short story.
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Original language
Canonical DDC/MDS

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English


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.
Haiku summary

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)

(see all 7 descriptions)

A Canticle for Leibowitz opens 600 years after 20th century civilization has been destroyed by a global nuclear war, known as the "Flame Deluge." As a result of the war, there was a violent backlash against the culture of advanced knowledge and technology that had led to the development of nuclear weapons. During this backlash, called the "Simplification," anyone of learning, and eventually anyone who could even read, was likely to be killed by rampaging mobs, who proudly took on the name of "Simpletons". Illiteracy became almost universal, and books were destroyed en masse. Isaac Edward Leibowitz had been a Jewish electrical engineer working for the United States military. Surviving the war, he converted to Roman Catholicism and founded a monastic order, the "Albertian Order of Leibowitz", dedicated to preserving knowledge by hiding books, smuggling them to safety (booklegging), memorizing, and copying them. Centuries after his death, the abbey is still preserving the "Memorabilia", the collected writings that have survived the Flame Deluge and the Simplification, in the hope that they will help future generations reclaim forgotten science.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 7 descriptions

Quick Links

Popular covers


Average: (3.95)
0.5 1
1 36
1.5 9
2 137
2.5 36
3 411
3.5 121
4 816
4.5 133
5 740

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


About | Contact | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 135,495,335 books! | Top bar: Always visible