A Canticle for Leibowitz Mass Market Paperback – Feb 1 1961
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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 --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
“Extraordinary ... chillingly effective.”— Time
“Angry, eloquent ... a terrific story.”— The New York Times
“An extraordinary novel ... Prodigiously imaginative, richly comic, terrifyingly grim, profound both intellectually and morally, and, above all ... simply such a memorable story as to stay with the reader for years.”— Chicago Tribune
“An exciting and imaginative story ... Unconditionally recommended.”— Library Journal
From the Trade Paperback edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
In addition to its unique take on historical processes, this book is essentially about the pros and cons of organized religion. In Part 1, humanity is stuck in the middle of several centuries of dark ages after a nuclear war, and once again the Catholic Church (or what's left of it) holds sway over a fearful and unenlightened society. Among the few records of the pre-war world that have survived are some inconsequential notes and blueprints by a minor scientist called Leibowitz. The church has made Leibowitz a saint, and here Miller appears to be commenting on the reverence of organized religion toward matters of doubtful authenticity and importance. Is religious belief built upon weak foundations? In Part 2 humanity is entering a new renaissance of knowledge, with religion being unable to adjust to the new enlightenment. In Part 3, humanity has reached a new technical age, but society is again oppressed by nuclear paranoia and mutually assured destruction.Read more ›
The first novella, Fiat Homo, is squarely about the Abbey of Saint Leibowitz and begins with the discovery of the Sacred Shopping List. It is the story of how the brothers seek to have Leibowitz officially recognized as a saint.
The second novella, Fiat Lux, is an espionage thriller dealing with the diabolical plans of the Emperor of Texarkana for continental domination. The third novella, Fiat Voluntas Tua, deals with the Second Nuclear Age as the nations that arose from the ashes of the First Nuclear Age and the nuclear war that ended that age, grapple with both nuclear weapons and the knowledge that a previous civilization died from those weapons.
As you can see, the 3 novellas deal with diverse subjects, but it is the way that Miller weaves his stories that the 3 become one.
A Canticle For Leibowitz is a most intriguing and well executed book and should be required reading in classrooms today.
Though the Fall of Man is an ancient literary theme, A Canticle for Leibowitz is probably one of the first science fiction novels to raise the question of whether we really are doomed to fall through technological rather than supernatural means. Miller makes his opinion on this matter fairly clear. I myself work on projects related to disarmament, and therefore (or despite this?) I have higher hopes than Miller for the future of humanity and technology.Read more ›
As the churches of past times strove to have their Saints and holy artifacts recognized by the Church, so they do in Canticle. It's a good yarn, an intertaining one, an absorbing one. I'm not certain why this book isn't among those listed as 'classics', reviewed by hundreds of reader-fans. I do know I loved it when I first read it several decades ago and I've loved it every time I've read it since.
I see in the editorial review that the book had a sequel I'd never heard of. I'm going to try to chase it down. Meanwhile, I recommend you get yourself a copy of this one and begin the sustained process of enjoying it occasionally for as long as you have eyesight and enough light to read by.
Most recent customer reviews
I read this book for a class. It quickly became one of my favourite books of all time. If you're a fan of post-apocalyptic stories, then this is the book for you. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Robin
This is an absolute must read for any lover of just not sci-fi but fiction in general. It is absolutely fantastic. Read morePublished 17 months ago by Pierre MacKay
I found this novel to be one of the worst things I have ever read. Reading it was laborious, meaningless and a complete waste of my time. Read morePublished 20 months ago by Larry Eldreth
The book deserves this rating for its ability to meet expectations. I enjoyed its setting and plot. I reccomendd it to readers of books like The Chrysalids. Read morePublished 20 months ago by David Brown
A classic for a reason.
I don't know what else to say beyond that. If you have any interest in the genres of apocalyptic stories, the future or humankind, the... Read more
This novel is timeless! Whether we are examining the supposed eras of recovery from nuclear holocaust, the reformation of oppressive armed combatants, the redeployment of nuclear... Read morePublished on June 18 2011 by Ronald W. Maron
Unlike much work in this genre, this book does not focus on the violence and danger of a post-apocalyptic world (although that certainly is present) but on the thoughts and... Read morePublished on Dec 3 2008 by Ryan B. Ward
I read this one for the first time a few years ago. I've read it a couple times since. It's thought provoking and original. Read morePublished on June 24 2007 by J. Niskanen
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