A Confederacy of Dunces

A Confederacy of Dunces

Book - 2000
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This anniversary edition of the classic novel that won the 1981 Pulitzer Prize for fiction features a Foreword by Walker Percy that looks back on the history of this humorous story set in New Orleans about around a slob named Ignatius Reilly and his relationship with his mother.
Publisher: Baton Rouge : Louisiana State University Press, 2000.
Edition: 20th anniversary ed.
ISBN: 9780807126066
Branch Call Number: Fic Tool
Characteristics: xiii, 338 p. ; 24 cm.


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Nov 11, 2020

"A Confederacy of Dunces" by John Kennedy Toole, is the farcical romp and tragicomedy that follows the misfortunes and adventures of failed Medieval scholar Ignatius J. Reilly as he trundles from one misadventure to another in early 1960s New Orleans. Reilly is a true anti-hero, utterly unforgettable and easy to despise. He is motivated in life by a Scholastic Philosophy, an early Medieval school of philosophy known for its "do nothing outlook," and namely in the person of Anicius Manlius Severinus Boëthius,, known for his "The Consolation of Philosophy" a book frequently cited by Reilly. The book also introduces a cast of cunning and well-rounded secondary characters, such as Reilly's long-suffering mother Irene, her friend and confidant Santa Battaglia, or my personal favorite Burma Jones, the underpaid and disgruntled porter for the Night of Joy. The book continuously builds on its narrative, keeping the reader turning the page until the satisfying conclusion. This book is a must read as it is just as much a look at mental illness as it is a comedy. The social commentary is also valuable, Toole's observations on 1960s LGBTQ+ life in the French Quarter as seen through Reilly's interactions with Dorian Green. The struggles of African-Americans as told from the first person by Burma Jones, or the humdrum of daily life as seen through Irene and Santa's point of view. As I was reading the book I couldn't help but reflect on what I knew about the author's life, Toole struggled as an only child with an overbearing mother, he was also highly educated like the protagonist. It is said that Toole, at the end of his life, suffered from symptoms likely brought on by schizophrenia: paranoia and delusions of persecution. This unfortunately led to the author's suicide in 1969, 11 years before the publication of "A Confederacy of Dunces." All-in-all, I would highly recommend this book, it checks all of the boxes for me: social commentary, history, theology, and geometry. ;)

Aug 13, 2020


Jun 06, 2020

A tender bit of melancholia.

May 22, 2020

I just did not like this book.

Mar 05, 2020

This book is hilarious!

🌭 A near masterpiece. Ignatius J. Reilly believes in theology and geometry, and has a sort of a job selling foot-long hot dogs from a cart. He detests Doris Day, and has problems with his valve. In real life, there's a statue of him in New Orleans, where he's much beloved, on Canal Street. His adventures are best found out about by reading the book, which is devastatingly accurate in its portrait of New Orleans in those days.


One way of looking at the character, is to see him as the first Internet troll, enormously sensitive to perceived slights and errors, writing long scornful screeds in reply (see quote from kokosowe). Odds are you've interacted with an Ignatius on the net, possibly even on this website. I know I have.

I first read this book in the 1980s sitting on the sofa next to someone from New York. I would laugh out loud, doubling over. He said he didn't remember the book being at all funny. He had lived nowhere near the south, I guess.

This is one of my all-time favorite books and one of the funniest I've ever read. I still vividly recall the characters.

Sep 18, 2019

This book is not for everyone; the humor is very specific. While I appreciate a little self-deprecating humor here and there, the plot is lacking and it was much to my own relief to have finally finished this book.
The main character is very dislikable. While some anti-heroes have their moments, this one does not. The ending is almost infuriating, because he doesn't get his comeuppance.
I kept reading and reading wondering why this book is a must-read. The vocabulary is exquisite and the scenarios interesting, but the characters weren't great enough for me, and that brought down the storyline. There's character development with pretty much everyone else except for the MC.

I think people who enjoy some fun vocabulary, dated storyline, and teachers trying to philosophize the hell out of this book will enjoy reading this. Otherwise, best to stay away for your own sake.

Jul 05, 2019

The audio book is excellent. The narrator captures the different dialects and accents with impressive precision. The story is amazing in that I didn't care for the main character yet wanted to know what was going to happen next. Definitely worth a listen.

Nov 10, 2018

I could read this book much faster if only I could stop laughing out loud and stop losing my place on almost every page!

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Sep 18, 2019

melissupercool thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over

Brown_Dog_365 May 19, 2012

Brown_Dog_365 thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over


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Jul 16, 2008

Your total ignorance of that which you profess to teach merits the death penalty. I doubt whether you would know that St. Cassian of Imola was stabbed to death by his students with their styli. His death, a martyr's honorable one, made him a patron saint of teachers.
Pray to him, you deluded fool, you "anyone for tennis?" golf-playing, cocktail-quaffing, pseudo-pedant, for you do indeed need a heavenly patron.
Although your days are numbered, you will not die as a martyr–for you further no holy cause–but as the total ass which you really are.


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