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A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy…

A Confederacy of Dunces (original 1980; edition 1987)

by John Kennedy Toole, Walker Percy (Foreword)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
14,590296138 (4)1 / 456
Title:A Confederacy of Dunces
Authors:John Kennedy Toole
Other authors:Walker Percy (Foreword)
Info:Grove Weidenfeld (1987), Edition: 0020-Anniversary, Paperback, 405 pages
Collections:Read but unowned

Work details

A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole (1980)

  1. 173
    Catch-22 by Joseph Heller (InvisiblerMan)
  2. 62
    The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz (citygirl, 2810michael)
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  4. 40
    The Dog of the South by Charles Portis (framberg)
    framberg: less well known but similar type of humor
  5. 40
    The Complete Stories by Flannery O'Connor (ainsleytewce)
  6. 40
    Managing Ignatius: The Lunacy of Lucky Dogs and Life in New Orleans by Jerry Strahan (lilithcat)
    lilithcat: The true craziness behind Toole's fiction.
  7. 41
    Absurdistan by Gary Shteyngart (BeckyJG)
  8. 41
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  9. 41
    Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson (mcenroeucsb)
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  12. 30
    The Life and Extraordinary Adventures of Private Ivan Chonkin by Vladimir Vojnovitsj (rabornj)
    rabornj: same type of character humor
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  14. 20
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  16. 42
    Lord of the Barnyard: Killing the Fatted Calf and Arming the Aware in the Cornbelt by Tristan Egolf (askthedust)
  17. 20
    Stars and Bars by William Boyd (mcenroeucsb)
    mcenroeucsb: Satirical in the American South
  18. 20
    Beyond the Great Indoors by Ingvar Ambjørnsen (erlend2)
  19. 31
    Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth by Chris Ware (2810michael)
  20. 31
    Flashman by George MacDonald Fraser (mcenroeucsb)
    mcenroeucsb: Flashman is a selfish coward; Toole's Ignatius is lazy, judgmental, and has delusions of grandeur. Yet through their hilarious narration of their misadventures, we come to sympathize with them and cheer for them in their bizarre quests.

(see all 34 recommendations)


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English (277)  French (8)  Spanish (5)  Italian (1)  Swedish (1)  Danish (1)  German (1)  Hebrew (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (296)
Showing 1-5 of 277 (next | show all)
I started this unabridged audiobook on my 24-hour roundtrip drive to my parent's house (Alabama to Texas) for Thanksgiving this year. I was looking specifically for a humorous novel and selected this one from the Good Reads listopia for Best Humorous Books. I was intrigued by the author's tragic story, the setting of New Orleans and the fact that the book was first published in 1980 by LSU Press (my alma mater). The first 1/3 of the book was laugh out loud funny but as the story progressed, the humor grew stale. As the book came to an end, I wondered whether its Pulitzer Prize for Fiction was a bit misplaced or was based, instead, on the incredible story surrounding the book instead of the book itself. I do, however, agree that the depiction of New Orleans was outstanding and the city truly served as a character in the story itself. ( )
  kellifrobinson | Nov 25, 2014 |
Would never have been able to get through this if I had been reading the print version. The audio was funny, but still painful. ( )
  ChewDigest | Nov 17, 2014 |
A new favorite. ( )
  ColinOBlivion | Sep 28, 2014 |
This novel won the Pulitzer Prize many years ago, and I’ve got to think that had as much to do with the provenance of the book as it did with its quality. It would seem that the author penned this novel at a young age and was unable to get it published. He subsequently committed suicide, whereupon his mother convinced the noted southern author, Walker Percy to take a look at it. Percy was blown away and used his considerable influence to have it published.

The story, set in New Orleans, is unusual to say the least. The “hero” of the story is an overeducated, lazy and eccentric lout named Ignatius Reilly. Reilly spends his life wandering through the city, watching movies, doing odd jobs and constantly fretting over his health and well-being. He is clearly mentally imbalanced. Throughout the book, he runs across various other colorful characters, the likes of which have become New Orleans clichés, which develop story threads of their own.

Initially, this is a rather amusing book. I did not find it “laugh out loud” funny, as some have professed, but did appreciate the often clever writing. However, after about 100 pages, the schtick began to get old for me. Imagine taking in a Vaudeville act, filled with pratfalls and pies in the face. How long can you watch this before becoming tired of it? Ten, fifteen minutes? Watch it for two hours and you’ll see what I mean.

Others have raved about character development. There is no character “development” here, only character presentation. Reilly is a lazy, eccentric slob from page one to the finish. Nobody develops, but instead remains their slotted stereotype throughout the novel. It just gets old. ( )
1 vote santhony | Aug 29, 2014 |
I found the humor and tone of the book very unique. Unique = Good. The characters were very well developed and you wanted to follow along with them to find out where they end up. Towards the middle of the book I felt a bit lost and it didn't end as strong as it started. Overall the book was a solid, funny and clever read. I would recommend it. ( )
  yougotamber | Aug 22, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 277 (next | show all)
A pungent work of slapstick, satire and intellectual incongruities - yet flawed in places by its very virtues.
Ultimately, Ignatius is simply too grotesque and loony to be taken for a genius; the world he howls at seems less awful than he does. Pratfalls can pass beyond slapstick only if they echo, and most of the ones in this novel do not. They are terribly funny, though, and if a book's price is measured against the laughs it provokes, A Confederacy of Dunces is the bargain of the year.
added by Shortride | editTime, Paul Gray (Jun 2, 1980)

» Add other authors (22 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Toole, John Kennedyprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Percy, WalkerForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him.-- Jonathan Swift, Thoughts on Various Subjects (1706)
There is a New Orleans city accent...associated with downtown New Orleans, particularly with the German and Irish Third Ward, that is hard to distinguish from the accent of Hoboken, Jersey City, and Astoria, Long Island, where the Al Smith inflection, extinct in Manhattan, has taken refuge. The reason, as you might expect, is that the same stocks that brought the accent to Manhattan imposed it on New Orleans.

"You're right on that. We're Mediterranean. I've never been to Greece or Italy, but I'm sure I'd be at home there as soon as I landed."
He would too, I thought. New Orleans resembles Genoa or Marseilles, or Beirut or the Egyptian Alexandria more than it does New York, although all seaports resemble one another more than they can resemble any place in the interior. Like Havana and Port-au-Prince, New Orleans is within the orbit of a Hellenistic world that never touched the North Atlantic. The Mediterranean, Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico form a homogeneous, though interuppted, sea.
A. J. Liebling,
First words
A green hunting cap squeezed the top of the fleshy balloon of a head. The green earflaps, full of large ears and uncut hair and the fine bristles that grew in the ears themselves, stuck out on either side like turn signals indicating two directions at once. Full, pursed lips protruded beneath the bushy black moustache and, at their corners, sank into little folds filled with disapproval and potato chip crumbs.
Perhaps the best way to introduce this novel-which on my third reading of it astounds me even more than the first-is to tell of my first encounter with it. (Foreword)
"The only problem those people have anyway is that they don't like new cars and hair sprays. That's why they are put away. They make the other members of society fearful. Every asylum in this nation is filled with poor souls who simply cannot stand lanolin, cellophane, plastic, television, and subdivisions."
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0802130208, Paperback)

"A green hunting cap squeezed the top of the fleshy balloon of a head. The green earflaps, full of large ears and uncut hair and the fine bristles that grew in the ears themselves, stuck out on either side like turn signals indicating two directions at once. Full, pursed lips protruded beneath the bushy black moustache and, at their corners, sank into little folds filled with disapproval and potato chip crumbs."

Meet Ignatius J. Reilly, the hero of John Kennedy Toole's tragicomic tale, A Confederacy of Dunces. This 30-year-old medievalist lives at home with his mother in New Orleans, pens his magnum opus on Big Chief writing pads he keeps hidden under his bed, and relays to anyone who will listen the traumatic experience he once had on a Greyhound Scenicruiser bound for Baton Rouge. ("Speeding along in that bus was like hurtling into the abyss.") But Ignatius's quiet life of tyrannizing his mother and writing his endless comparative history screeches to a halt when he is almost arrested by the overeager Patrolman Mancuso--who mistakes him for a vagrant--and then involved in a car accident with his tipsy mother behind the wheel. One thing leads to another, and before he knows it, Ignatius is out pounding the pavement in search of a job.

Over the next several hundred pages, our hero stumbles from one adventure to the next. His stint as a hotdog vendor is less than successful, and he soon turns his employers at the Levy Pants Company on their heads. Ignatius's path through the working world is populated by marvelous secondary characters: the stripper Darlene and her talented cockatoo; the septuagenarian secretary Miss Trixie, whose desperate attempts to retire are constantly, comically thwarted; gay blade Dorian Greene; sinister Miss Lee, proprietor of the Night of Joy nightclub; and Myrna Minkoff, the girl Ignatius loves to hate. The many subplots that weave through A Confederacy of Dunces are as complicated as anything you'll find in a Dickens novel, and just as beautifully tied together in the end. But it is Ignatius--selfish, domineering, and deluded, tragic and comic and larger than life--who carries the story. He is a modern-day Quixote beset by giants of the modern age. His fragility cracks the shell of comic bluster, revealing a deep streak of melancholy beneath the antic humor. John Kennedy Toole committed suicide in 1969 and never saw the publication of his novel. Ignatius Reilly is what he left behind, a fitting memorial to a talented and tormented life. --Alix Wilber

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:40:16 -0400)

(see all 8 descriptions)

Ignatius J. Reilly of New Orleans, --selfish, domineering, deluded, tragic and larger than life-- is a noble crusader against a world of dunces. He is a modern-day Quixote beset by giants of the modern age. In magnificent revolt against the twentieth century, Ignatius propels his monstrous bulk among the flesh posts of the fallen city, documenting life on his Big Chief tablets as he goes, until his maroon-haired mother decrees that Ignatius must work.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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Two editions of this book were published by Audible.com.

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Penguin Australia

Four editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141182865, 0141023465, 0141045647, 0241951593

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