Review: A Canticle for Leibowitz

A Canticle for Leibowitz
A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller Jr.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A classic vision of a post-apocalyptic world in which the lacunary remains of our dead culture’s knowledge have been piously hoarded and conserved by monks who have no idea what it means. Even a shopping list is treated as endowed with mystic meaning. The relations of church,state and science are explored in a way that relativises each of them in turn in a mythic frame of the eternal recurrence of hope and destruction presided over by buzzards and sharks,symbols of predation and violence – the powers of this world.Wisdom and power vie for the proper use of knowledge, but even wisdom seems to be contained in imperfect, naive and credulous institutions. Book 3 seems to come down on the side of the Church and Tradition as superior to humanistic positivist modernism. But this would be to forget that the Church is shown to be ignorant,superstitious,and rife with its own petty power struggles in Book 1.
I read this book many years ago and was deeply impressed by it. I had forgotten many details as the style is rich and and ambitious.I found it just as gripping today even though I could not fully « agree » with the direction the plot took in the second half. A must read for anyone who likes SF even a little.

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