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A Canticle for Leibowitz. Life after nuclear war can be an exciting adventure. The Setting. America following a nuclear war At that time, science fiction writers would refer to this kind of setting as “post-holocaust” Pre-war knowledge is gathered and preserved by the Catholic church.

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A canticle for leibowitz

A Canticle for Leibowitz

Life after nuclear war can be an exciting adventure


The setting
The Setting

  • America following a nuclear war

  • At that time, science fiction writers would refer to this kind of setting as “post-holocaust”

  • Pre-war knowledge is gathered and preserved by the Catholic church


The three sections
The three sections

  • Fiat Homo = “Let there be man”

  • Fiat Lux = “Let there be light”

  • Fiat Voluntas Tua = “Thy Will Be Done”


Context for leibowitz
Context for Leibowitz

  • Written at a time when there was a concern over nuclear war (1959)

  • Setting is a post-nuclear world

  • Knowledge is preserved, but not fully understood


Key themes
Key Themes

  • Things that once were culturally relevant are now archaic, ceremonial and no longer fully understood by everyone

  • Examples: Latin references, the shopping list, etc.

  • Book becomes its own metaphor


Key themes1
Key Themes

  • In a post-apocalyptic world, communication breaks down

  • Communities live in isolation

  • People live without understanding technology


Futility of the present
Futility of the present

  • People spend time doing jobs they do not understand

  • Fear that humanity may not have learned the lessons of the past

  • Does humankind have the ability to survive the worst?


Religion
Religion

  • After the decline of the Roman Empire, monks kept knowledge alive

  • Novel plays upon that idea, with main characters who are custodians of manuscripts

  • But the characters do not understand much of what they preserve


Brother frances
Brother Frances

  • His character is based on the life of a monk in Medieval times

  • Updated to reflect post-apocalyptic world

  • Science is in its infancy in his world


An ancient artifact p 26
An ancient “artifact” (p. 26)

  • “He handled the papers as he might handle holy things”

  • A shopping list

  • “Pound pastrami, can kraut, six bagels – bring home for Emma.”


Summary
Summary

  • As you read “Canticle” think about whether or not the novel allows for hope for humanity

  • Also consider the rate of progess. How far does science advance?

  • What role does history play in this work?