The Book Meme Challenge: The Best Book You Read Last Year
After some deliberation, I’ve concluded that this must have been A Canticle for Liebowitz.
Honestly, I found it a rather difficult read – not on account of the ‘reading level’ or Latin sprinkled throughout, but because the premise of how nuclear fallout changes the world cannot but be distressing, nor am I well-versed in post-apocalyptic fiction. Especially fascinating, if a bit appalling, is the lack of trust of the self-styled ‘simpletons’ for scholars or learning in general – to the point where anyone caught with a book will be killed. Given how people react to crises today, even those caused by natural disasters rather than human warfare, it’s easy enough to picture the backlash against the scientists who made it possible to blow the world apart.
There is so much I didn’t catch in my first reading, but here are three of the elements Miller captures:
– the desolate atmosphere of such a time, heightened by the fact that the large cities of today (e.g., Denver) become the names of regions inhabited by nomads (nor are the deserts and seas without the requisite vultures and sharks);
– how the Church would go about preserving wisdom so well as it might, which involves both hearkening back to the scribes and illumination of old, as well as scientific experimentation and spaceship-launching of the future; and
– how difficult it would be to assimilate knowledge when popular feeling has been set against it and so many texts have been lost forever. The monks hold a shopping list and various blueprints in high reverence by virtue of their being written before the Flame Deluge.
Though the onlooker might wonder about God’s plan for the world, especially when the monks or other characters suffer greatly, the Church continues on.