“What books would I bring if the world would be destroyed by aliens or cylons and we had to restart civilization as we know it?”
What a question! And how tempting it is to lay aside the booklist question in order to pursue the nature of the catastrophe…but I’ll keep myself in check. I talked over the booklist question with a friend I knew to be familiar with Miller’s A Canticle for Leibowitz. We agreed that we would *not* bring a shopping list, nor blueprints, unless the blueprints were extensive enough to be of use. Rather, we’d opt for something more fundamental, and would not limit ourselves to one book unless we had to.
Thankfully Thalia’s already got charge of the History of the Peloponnesian War, which did arise as a possibility in the course of our conversation. We talked about bringing the Bible, Shakespeare, the works of St. Augustine, Pascal (I’d bring the first two and my friend could handle the latter two). We pondered the best way to sum up or collect all the pieces of art or music in a volume (and couldn’t really get beyond the Norton Anthologies of both, so if you have other suggestions, please make them). We figured that it might be wise to bring as much information on chemistry, physics, and calculus as possible, despite our personal failure to study them very deeply; why, we asked, leave all the legwork to the people trying to rebuild the world?
Then I consulted my eldest brother, who, after due mention of the Bible and Shakespeare, determined that he would bring a Latin missal, breviary, and patristic writings; a collection of Plato and Aristotle; Homer and Virgil; Dante’s Divine Comedy in Italian; all of Aquinas; and (somewhat peculiarly) a scientific manual that our dad consults regularly. These, he figured, were among the documents on which the present civilization was founded. If they did so the first time, then there was no reason they should not again.
So, figuring he would have those covered, I imagine myself bearing the dictionary; a volume of Anglo-Saxon poetry; The Wealth of Nations; a pretty solid anthology of not-Anglo Saxon poetry; some book or other on animal husbandry and agriculture; the small bag of honeymoon-worthy books; and The Complete Calvin and Hobbes.
…then hopefully I’d find the person who brought Tolkien along.
It’s the end of the world as we know it
and I feel fine