Sobriquet 71.4

My reading for this afternoon included two essays mentioning A Canticle for Leibowitz. Both Thomas Dunn's "The Deep Caves of Thought: Plato, Heinlein, and LeGuinn" and Andrew Pavelich's "After the End of the World: Critiques of Technology in Post-Apocalypse Literature" appeared in my recent search for Walter Miller-related material in the MLA International Bibliography database, but neither essay actually focuses on Miller's novel. In Dunn's essay, for instance, the critic limits his treatment of A Canticle for Leibowitz to a perfunctory identification as "[o]ne of the best known and most whimsical" examples of "those post-holocaust stories in which the past is a blank wall or a dark tunnel down which the light of history penetrates but a short distance" (107). Like Dunn, Pavelich incorporates a brief mention of A Canticle for Leibowitz into a much larger discussion of post-apocalyptic science fiction. Given the comparative brevity of Pavelich's discussion, the critic's reading of Miller's novel is, predictably, heavy on the plot summary. However, despite the lack of space Pavelich devotes to A Canticle for Leibowitz in his essay, the critic does make one of the more intriguing assertions I have yet encountered about the novel:  Since "[t]he history of science tells us that there is no such thing as the path of scientific development," Pavelich argues, "[t]he world of Saint Leibowitz ends up where it began (more of less) because history was intentionally guided that way by the church" (191). In other words, the Albertan Order of Leibowitz, in its noble attempt to save human knowledge from oblivion, nudges mankind right back onto the path of destruction mapped out in the inscrutable relics comprising the Memorabilia.

Works Cited

Dunn, Thomas. "The Deep Caves of Thought: Plato, Heinlein, and LeGuinn." SciFi in the Mind's Eye: Reading Science Through Science Fiction. Ed. Margret Grebowicz. Chicago: Open Court, 2007. 185-198.

Pavelich, Andrew.  "After the End of the World: Critiques of Technology in Post-Apocalypse Literature." Spectrum of the Fantastic: Selected Essays from the Sixth International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts (Contributions to the Study of Science Fiction and Fantasy). Ed Donald Palumbo. New York: Greenwood Press, 1988. 105-112.


Popular Posts