A Canticle for Leibowitz Author:Walter M. Miller Jr. In celebration of the publication of the sequel Saint Leibowitz and the Wild Horse Woman comes this special edition of the classic A Canticle for Leibowitz, a novel that transcends genre to stand as one of the most significant literary works of our time. — In the Utah desert, Brother Francis of the Albertian Order of Leibowitz has m... more »ade a miraculous discovery: the relics of the martyr Isaac Leibowitz himself, including the blessed blueprint and the sacred shopping list. They may provide a bright ray of hope in a terrifying age of darkness, a time of ignorance and genetic monsters that are the unholy aftermath of the Flame Deluge. But as the spellbinding mystery at the core of this extraordinary novel unfolds, it is the search itself--for meaning, for truth, for love--that offers hope to a humanity teetering on the edge of an abyss.
A timeless and still timely masterpiece, A Canticle for Leibowitz is a classic that ranks with Brave New World and 1984.« less
Excellent and groundbreaking novel, constantly in print since first in 1959. Three sections: postapocalyptic North America, 26th century, after the "simplification," and deep in a dark age; 600 years later, when "memorabilia" faithfully preserved in an isolated monastery becomes the seed for the resurrection of lost information and technology; and 600 years after that, when... Well, ya just gotta read it!
A Canticle for Leibowitz is a cautionary tale set in a post apocalyptic America which emphasizes the adage that those who fail to learn history are doomed to repeat it. This book is actually three separate stories but all very much related and important for understanding the message of the book. The first story is probably the most popular and interesting of the three, which relates the tale of a monk in the New Mexico desert many years after a nuclear war has happened and the great lengths his order goes through to preserve knowledge. The second story takes place years later but relates to the things that the monks had done. The third story takes place perhaps a century or more later and is probably the most important part of the book and also somewhat less interesting and hard to follow, but once you understand what the third part is about, it brings the story full circle and delivers the final message that the author is trying to express. Shocking and poignant, A Canticle for Leibowitz is a true classic science fiction novel that should be read by pretty much everyone interested in the genre. 5/5 Stars.
I stumbled across this book in college and was blown away. Reading it again almost twenty years later, I found it hadn't lost any of its impact. I'm going to recommend it to my book club when my turn comes round again. The characters are real; their situation, though dated at points, is hauntingly affecting; their decisions, though not the ones I might have made in their place, ring true for them. The writing is sharp and lucid throughout. Sadly, I've learned that in the time between my two readings of this book, the author--who never wrote another novel after this--took his own life (a tragedy further compounded by the anti-suicide argument that takes up the last third of the book).
This is science fiction, but science fiction like 1984 or Brave New World. To break out of the (unfortunate but undeniable) science fiction ghetto, this book deserves to be filed under Classics.
I first read this many years ago and found it so fascinating that I have kept my old copy of it. One image that persists is that of the monks painstakingly reproducing the blueprints they have found, not knowing what they meant or what they were for, but assuming that they are very important cultural or scientific artifacts. The last part of the book was somewhat disappointing, but even so, I expect to read it again some day.
Now it is 2012 and I just came across my old review of this book. I am amazed that there have been no more reviews posted for this book. As the one other reviewer writes, this book deserves to be listed among the classics. Isn't anyone reading it? I suppose there is hope in the fact that I found it on the Wish List today. If you can't get it here, it's worth buying, folks! My guess is that many who do buy it or get it in a swap decide to keep it.
Having just finished A Canticle for Leibowitz (hey, better late than never), I've been mulling some of the similarities between this book and Isaac Asimov's Foundation series (the original trilogy, at least), as well as the differences. Both series are episodic, of course, as they focus on certain moments in history following the fall of civilization â" in Asimov's book, the fall was gradual; while in Leibowitz it's more instantaneous. Both books reveal a long-term plan to preserve human knowledge in the wake of the onset of a new Dark Age; and both use the ideals of an initial prophet to build the foundation that evolves over time.
Leibowitz, however, depends more upon faith and religious devotion as opposed to Foundation's ingenuity and endurance of humanity. It's interesting to note that the religious dogma followed in Leibowitz result in the group dedicated to the preservation of knowledge (the Albertian Order of Leibowitz) remaining modest and overlooked through the years; whereas the Seldon Foundation becomes the dominant force in the Galaxy through the execution of its own master plan.
Both books, in addition, base their histories on the working theme that history repeats itself, and that we are doomed to repeat the past. This theme is more subtle in Foundation, though; it is based on the concept of Hari Seldon's psychohistory, which predicts the behavior of large groups of human beings based upon their predictability. This predictability led to Seldon's ability to predict when certain crises of history would take place, based upon the tendency of humans to repeat their past mistakesâ¦at least, until his predictions were negated by the presence of the unknown X-factor, the Mule. Then, the books focused on the attempts by the Second Foundation to pick up the pieces of their plan and return it to a pattern of predictability. (I won't get into Foundation's Edge, which IMHO negates a large part of Asimov's concept of human predictability.)
Foundation is more optimistic than A Canticle for Leibowitz, which by its final chapters is brow-beating the reader over the head with its message that mankind is doomed to repeat the past. What's interesting in Leibowitz is the way that science becomes more opposed to religion with each book in the story: in the first, science is an artifact to be kept hidden and preserved; in the second, newly-born science finds itself at odds with religion; and in the third book, science (and Mankind) has abandoned religion and considers it above religion, as exemplified by the argument over euthanasia in the last chapters. Miller is unquestionably in the pro-religion camp in this book, but if you accept this and just take his preaching as character storytelling, then it's still a good read.
Interesting book. It's divided into three parts; each taking place many centuries apart from the others. I enjoyed the first third, and found the second third interesting, but the last third of the book did little for me. Very interesting glance into a possible future for the world.