A Canticle for Leibowitz Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of A Canticle for Leibowitz

Miller's 1959 classic examines the distant future at three distinct points: maybe half a dozen centuries after a nuclear war destroyed much of civilization (in the 1960s), and life has returned to fairly the sparse and primitive; in 3174 AD when kingdoms have gathered considerable power and are warring conventionally; and in 3781 AD when robots, atomic bombs, and rocket power have returned. The unifying factor (and location) of the story is a small desert monastery of the Order of St. Leibowitz, dedicated to preserving and enhancing pieces of human scientific knowledge, although most of it is unintelligible to the monks. In each era, the abbot and his priests and novices have to deal with warring political factions, encroachments on their faith and "database," and their own doubts. By the climax, when nuclear war once again threatens humankind's very existence, the monks know what to do. With wry humor and penetrating thoughtfulness, Miller creates an entire cycle of humanity and its challenges within 340 pages.
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The review of this Book prepared by David Loftus

Chapter Analysis of A Canticle for Leibowitz

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Plot & Themes

Composition of Book Descript. of chases or violence 10%planning/preparing, gather info, debate puzzles/motives 20%Feelings, relationships, character bio/development 40%Descript. of society, phenomena (tech), places 30% Tone of book    -   cynical or dry-wit FANTASY or SCIENCE FICTION?    -   science fiction story Explore/1st contact/ enviro story    -   Yes Explore:    -   post environmental/nuclear disaster, fighting MadMax gangs Political power play    -   Yes Political plotlets    -   preventing/managing clash/war between govts/kingdoms Tech./$$$/Info hunt    -   Yes Stealing/recovering/destroying    -   power source Is this an adult or child's book?    -   Adult or Young Adult Book Religious overtones?    -   Yes

Main Character

Identity:    -   Male Profession/status:    -   religious figure Age:    -   60's-90's


Terrain    -   Desert    -   Mountains Earth setting:    -   distant future Takes place on Earth?    -   Yes

Writing Style

Accounts of torture and death?    -   moderately detailed references to deaths scientific jargon? (SF only)    -   some scientific explanation How much dialogue?    -   significantly more dialog than descript

Books with storylines, themes & endings like A Canticle for Leibowitz

Walter Miller Jr. Books Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
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