A Canticle for Leibowitz

A Canticle for Leibowitz

Book - 2006 | First Eos paperback edition
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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.
Publisher: New York : Eos, 2006
Edition: First Eos paperback edition
Copyright Date: ©1959
ISBN: 9780060892999
0060892994
Call Number: SF MILLER 2006
Characteristics: xiii, 334 pages ; 21 cm
Additional Contributors: Russell, Mary Doria 1950-

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From Library Staff

"A masterful achievement that ranks with "Brave New World" and "1984", this mesmerizing tale of the terrible aftermath of nuclear war has captivated generations of readers since its first publication in 1959."

In a nightmarish ruined world slowly awakening to the light after sleeping in darkness, the infant rediscoveries of science are secretly nourished by cloistered monks dedicated to the study and preservation of the relics and writings of the blessed Saint Isaac Leibowitz.

Winner of the 1961 Hugo Award for Best Novel and widely considered one of the most accomplished, powerful, and enduring classics of modern speculative fiction, Walter M. Miller's A Canticle for Leibowitz is a true landmark of twentieth-century literature-a chilling and still-provocative look at a... Read More »

In a nightmarish ruined world slowly awakening to the light after sleeping in darkness, the infant rediscoveries of science are secretly nourished by cloistered monks dedicated to the study and preservation of the relics and writings of the blessed Saint Isaac Leibowitz.

Winner of the 1961 Hugo Award for Best Novel and widely considered one of the most accomplished, powerful, and enduring classics of modern speculative fiction


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chazbufe
Aug 16, 2020

Vastly overrated. While some of the episodes are entertaining, there's not much of a plot. It's an ode to a carefully sanitized version of the Catholic Church, and will appeal to those who are unfamiliar with the Church's actual history during the Middle Ages.

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FVReader
Apr 24, 2019

Hope, Knowledge, Continuity. Mankind's need or thirst for these never diminishes.

The story starts 600 years after the destruction of Civilization. Miller adds humour to the stark reality. There are no easy problems or answers in this new World. How would we handle a second chance? This story is told in a subtle, thought-provoking way.

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fledge
Oct 01, 2018

A post-nuclear-bomb-apocalypse Catholic abbey blunders its way to preserving a good deal of the science and technology that led the way to the apocalypse. An analysis of faith and Catholicism with some Judaism thrown in. The prose is smooth and the characters interesting. There’s quite a bit of Latin in the book, so be prepared to slow down to figure it out (or look it up on the Internet) what some of the monks’ prayers mean, although this slowing down and lookup up is well worth it. It forces you to ponder, think it through. A good technique. Well worth reading.

s
sat7
Sep 01, 2018

I really enjoyed this SciFi -

I read this in 1980 and this classic sci-fi left a strong impression on my 20 year old brain. Now, In the Trump era, when truth is malleable and a leader's word cannot be trusted, the underpinnings of a human holistic are frighteningly real threat. The first two segments are well written and enthralling but I found the last section bounced too fast into a future where Catholicism still holds undue sway in a post modern world. The whole mercy killing theme was exasperating given the immorality that was driving humanity to war. And OMG the remnants of an obsolete theology gets to fly off into the stratosphere. Now that is a tragedy that was supposed to inspire a germ of hope at the end of the novel and which ultimately deprecates the story for the 21st century reader.

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dennismmiller
Jul 12, 2017

St Isaac Leibowitz was one of the scientists who made Armageddon possible, and hoped that it would never become actual. When human folly unleashed unimaginable destruction, he took shelter from the aftermath in a secluded monastery, emerging to found a religious order dedicated to preserving whatever could be preserved. Down through the centuries, the spiritual sons of Leibowitz dare to defy both bloodthirsty simpletons and amoral sophisticates, barbarians who believe that by erasing history they can prevent it from recurring and barbarians who believe that their command of science makes history irrelevant.

A Canticle for Leibowitz is an adaptation and expansion of a series of short stories following the history of the Albertian Order of Leibowitz in the millennia following a devastating nuclear war. One of the classics of science fiction, the heavy use of irony conceals one of the most compassionate and genuinely humane novels of the twentieth century.

r
rhys33
Dec 05, 2016

It's post-apocalyptic sci-fi, it's historical fiction, it's literary fiction, and it's all around fantastic. I put this book up there with Mary Doria Russell's The sparrow in terms how much I enjoyed it. Interestingly, I see that Russell also wrote a forward for this book. Highly recommend!

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UptownGirl1
Sep 13, 2016

A very well written spiritual science-fiction novel. This novel is very thought provoking and is relatable to everyone living today.

The author in this novel gives us a thorough view of monasticism and he goes to the core of original Christian beliefs. All of the characters in this novel, are completely realistic and very well presented.

He also goes into depth about the conflicts between those who want religious learning and those who prefer the horrors of secular education.

To those who want to have a realistic view of society, I highly recommend this book!

t
TeresaWBrown
Jul 27, 2016

Interesting exploration of world destruction, religion in a secular world and how little we learn from history.

s
susan_findlay
Jul 17, 2016

Bleak and barbaric. While the setting is the future, the world presented more closely resembles a prehistoric one than a futuristic one. For that reason, it doesn't particularly read like science fiction.
The book is divided into three sections, each set in a different century after a nuclear war had destroyed much of civilization, and the hatred of knowledge felt by the remaining humans had destroyed much of the rest (blaming the nuclear war on science/technology/knowledge rather than on human weakness - though the humans perceived as responsible had been slaughtered while the books burned).
As the first section of the book begins, the only place that has attempted to preserve knowledge is the church. The hero of this section is a monk who accidentally stumbles across a fallout shelter which still contains some pre-war papers.
The other two sections also follow monks at the same monastery - though the third section is jarringly different from the first two (which are excellent). It's necessary to fully communicate the author's overall message, but it's a very awkward transition.
I would hate to have to live in the world portrayed in this book, but most of the characters are compelling and the scenario is not entirely unbelievable.

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bursar42
Nov 13, 2010

bursar42 thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over

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