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 20th-century literature - a chilling and still-provocative look at a postapocalyptic future.
In a nightmarish, ruined world, slowly awakening to the light after sleeping in darkness, the infantile 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. From there, the story spans centuries of ignorance, violence, and barbarism, viewing through a sharp, satirical eye the relentless progression of a human race damned by its inherent humanness to recelebrate its grand foibles and repeat its grievous mistakes.
Seriously funny, stunning, tragic, eternally fresh, imaginative, and altogether remarkable, A Canticle for Leibowitz retains its ability to enthrall and amaze. It is now, as it always has been, a masterpiece.
©1959 Walter M. Miller, Jr. (P)2011 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
“Chillingly effective.” (Time)
I value intelligent stories with characters I can relate to. I can appreciate good prose, but a captivating plot is way more important.
I got more joy out of reading the wikipedia synopsis of the book than I did from the book itself.
Miller seemed far more interested in showing off his eclectic vocabulary than in telling the story. It felt like some sort of bizarre creative writing experiment at first. Later he either toned it down, or I got used to it. Either way, it nearly put me off the novel.
The opening scene of the novel is the only one worth listening to, but then it goes down from there- and stays down.
I guess the audience is supposed to appreciate the brilliantly subtle way that Miller unravels the events of the past for us, but really I was so bored by the central story lines that it was hard to even care about world Miller was imagining them in.
I REALLY wanted to like this book. I mean, I stuck it out until the end, despite pretty much hating it by the end of the second chapter. Post-apocalyptic sci-fi is one of my all time favorite genres. Unfortunately this book contained none of the danger and drama that I had imagined were inevitable in this family of stories.
Ultimately, the problem with the book is that there isn't a single character in here that listeners can come close to carrying about; they're all boring, ignorant, quite folks who like to keep to themselves and study. Sounds exciting, doesn't it?
The narrator was good with the different character voices, but the overall tone was too dry and succinct - as if the narrator was reading the evening radio news instead of a story.
Between the overly verbose conversations and droll tedium there were parts where the story progressed. The continuity between the ages and church vs. state dilemmas are interesting, but you really have to dig through the fluff for it.
I purchased this book on the many five star recommendations that I read, only to be disappointed.
Unlike some of the other 1950-60's books I have read that stood up (i.e. Heinlein's and Aasimov's books), this one did not stand up to the ages well - and I'm not just talking about the use of Latin.
This story could be half as long and accomplish just as much, but it was written in a time when literature was ornately over-worded (i.e. Lord of the Rings, Atlas Shrugged, etc.) so I feel this story fit the generation from whence it came. By today's standards though, it's a bit of a tired slog :(
Don't know what I want to be when I grow up. Trip's cool though. Use Audible to make gym-training sane... And rip my imagination.
This is an important novel. This is a fun novel. This is a serious novel. This is a scholarly novel. This is everybody's novel. Pity that A Canticle for Leibowitz has somehow become stuck in a SciFi category as opposed to a Great Fiction category. Written in the 1950s, Miller's tale of the future is as gripping today and ripens wonderfully with age. Tom Weiner's the perfect performing artist to tell us "A Canticle For Leibowitz". A GREAT STORY!
I don't mind that this story -- written in 1959 -- gets the whole "end of the world" thing wrong. We now know that the world won't end in an atomic war, but with climate change and zombies, of course.
What I do mind, however, is that the whole story kind of sucks. There's a group of selfless, dedicated, intelligent monks who do everything in their power to safeguard some undisclosed "memorabilia" through centuries of ignorance and unrest. And what is this precious "memorabilia," you ask? No one ever says, but it sounds like just a bunch of worthless engineering diagrams or circuit drawings. Big deal--and certainly not enough to restart civilization after it was ruined in a nuclear apocalypse. That's really not much of a story either, unless you think that a propaganda piece about the Catholic Church makes for a great sci-fi story. For me, I need a bit more, thanks.
And what in the heck is up with the narration? One character in the book--supposedly a brilliant scientist and scholar of the future--is given the accent of Foghorn Leghorn! And the other characters are not treated much better. The narration was very distracting in my view.
Anyway, I did finish the book just to see if it gets better at the end (spoiler alert--it doesn't). I say, don't waste your time and get a better book to listen to. Life is short, and zombies will be here soon!!
A kind of "holocaust lit", this story has humor, character, and imagination. It has a scope of history. It is NOT preachy, though some characters are "orthodox" in their beliefs, though at the same time, they are likable and symapathetic. The author invites the reader to think deeply about the meaning of life, what one does with one's life. Are there any "absolute" answers to these questions? How much does one's point of view influence one's answers to these questions, one's ideas and choices - Am I a novice? An abbot? A poet? A king? A scientist? An inventor? An artist? A warrior? You do not have to be Episcopalian or Catholic to get some of the references... However, I think being Episcopalian gave me a foundation of understanding for some of the theological notions. Having taken some basic Latin in High School, gave me a sense for the beauty, and some of the meaning, when the characters intoned in Latin. This could make an amazing film in the hands of the right screenwriter and director. Like Nevil Shute's "On the Beach", this book will probably call to me again, to examine these eternal questions.
A thought-provoking exploration of mankind's hubris and his struggles to overcome it. Through well-developed, 3-dimensional characters that space nearly 2,000 years, the author tells a story of the rise and fall of man, who seems unable to break free from the endless cycle of rebirth and doom he created for himself. An interesting look at spiritualism and man's love-hate relationship with God. The author lightens the overall sense of tragedy and what some may see as purposeless struggle with well-placed humor and ultimately with the hope that indeed man can learn to overcome self-destruction and find innocence again. The narrator does an excellent job and definitely enhanced the experience of this book for me. I recommend this book to anyone who loved "Earth Abides" and "Childhood's End."
I tried, I really did. I think it might be a better book to read. I did not like the narrator, but usually I can get over that. it was just dull.
I've had this book on my shelves for ages... decades... I love Latin (spent many years studying it) and had the best intentions to read the story. never had time... finally the audiobook gave me the chance.
if you don't know Latin, some of the untranslated phrases can be lost: much easier to ascertain the cognates when read. The performance was good, as was the Latin pronunciation. The dramatic singing could have been professionally done or left as recited. B+ book.
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