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A Canticle for Leibowitz Paperback – May 9, 2006
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The only character who appears in all three sections is the Wandering Jew--borrowed from the anti-Semitic legend of a man who mocked Jesus on the way to the crucifixion and who was condemned to a vagrant life on earth until Judgment Day. Miller resurrects this European slander and sanitizes him as a curmudgeonly hermit, a voice of reason in a desert wilderness, an observer to humankind's repeated stupidities, a friend to the monks and abbots, the biblical Lazarus, the ghost of Leibowitz (perhaps)--and even the voice of Miller himself.
Throughout "Canticle," Miller's search for religious faith clashes with his respect for scientific rationalism. For Miller, Lucifer is not a fallen angel but technological discovery unencumbered by a moral compass; "Lucifer is fallen" becomes the code phrase the future Church uses to indicate the imminent threat of a second nuclear holocaust.Read more ›
PART ONE: FIAT HOMO (5 stars) Tipped off by a mysterious old man (could it be Saint Leibowitz himself?), a nervous novice monk discovers an underground chamber that contains some highly significant relics, for which he suffers abuse from a fearful and sadistic abbot. Eventually, he is sent on a dangerous journey to New Rome, under constant threat from primitive nomads. The ending of this section is rather chilling and ironic, much like a Flannery O'Connor short story.
PART TWO: FIAT LUX (3 stars) This is the only section among the three that really is not able to stand alone as a self-contained story with a definitive ending. I suppose this could be considered the "Empire Strikes Back" of the "trilogy". The basis of this part is the mistrust that exists between religion and science, when a scholar visits the monastary to study the ancient Leibowitz documents and finds, to his astonishment, one of the monks has invented (or re-invented) the electric light. The old man reappears (remember, this is hundreds of years after the first story) as a rather significant player in this section, but, ultimately, this story is merely transitional.
PART THREE: FIAT VOLUNTUAS TUA (5 stars) I wanted to give this part 6 or 7 stars, but that would be cheating. This last section is absolutely brilliant.Read more ›
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 ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Three stories about life among a religious community after a nuclear holocaust. A complex portrayal of the better angels of human nature in the face of the worst of human sins. Read morePublished 13 hours ago by David Smith
Have read dozens of times as a teacher and, now semi-retired am re-reading it for further enjoyment.Published 10 days ago by Theodore I. Reese III
I just finished reading this book, and looking back on the novel, I was at time confused, perplexed and unsure about what the book was exactly about and where we were heading. Read morePublished 13 days ago by Danny
I read this book about 50 years ago and wanted to reread it.I think it is one of the best scifi books ever written especially if you are familiar with the Catholic church.Published 19 days ago by Denise H.
This is a modern classic!
Regarding the Bantam Spectra "mass market reissue", April 2007, which says "Paw Prints" on the back and has a mostly black... Read more
One of the great sci-fi classics. A very unique take on post apocalyptic societyPublished 29 days ago by Jeff Alexander
This book is a classic as in timeless. There a haunting quality to the story that makes it unique. There are obviously other great science fiction books, but in my opinion there... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Sandy E.
I had to read this book in High School - and is one of the books I have returned to over and over again through the years. Read morePublished 1 month ago by CathyMcReader
A great read. Before you read it, find a guide to the Latin phrases, which are available several places on the internet. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Brian Bowman