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A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy…

A Confederacy of Dunces (1980)

by John Kennedy Toole

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
18,054397170 (3.96)1 / 577
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)
  1. 244
    Catch-22 by Joseph Heller (InvisiblerMan)
  2. 92
    The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz (citygirl, 2810michael)
  3. 71
    The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger (mcenroeucsb)
    mcenroeucsb: Books with Delusional/Enlightened Outcast protagonists
  4. 61
    One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey (mcenroeucsb)
    mcenroeucsb: Books with Delusional/Enlightened Outcast protagonists
  5. 40
    Handling Sin by Michael Malone (caseydurfee)
  6. 62
    Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson (mcenroeucsb)
    mcenroeucsb: Books with Delusional/Enlightened Outcast protagonists
  7. 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.
  8. 41
    Henderson the Rain King by Saul Bellow (ShelfMonkey)
  9. 41
    The Dog of the South by Charles Portis (framberg)
    framberg: less well known but similar type of humor
  10. 42
    The Complete Stories by Flannery O'Connor (ainsleytewce)
  11. 31
    Little Big Man by Thomas Berger (mcenroeucsb, mcenroeucsb)
    mcenroeucsb: Books with Amusing Rogue protagonists
    mcenroeucsb: Books with Delusional/Enlightened Outcast protagonists
  12. 32
    Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth by Chris Ware (2810michael)
  13. 21
    The Life and Extraordinary Adventures of Private Ivan Chonkin by Vladimir Vojnovitsj (rabornj)
    rabornj: same type of character humor
  14. 32
    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.
  15. 21
    Stars and Bars by William Boyd (mcenroeucsb)
    mcenroeucsb: Satirical in the American South
  16. 10
    Kinflicks by Lisa Alther (ainsleytewce)
  17. 21
    Beyond the Great Indoors by Ingvar Ambjørnsen (erlend2)
  18. 21
    A Fraction of the Whole by Steve Toltz (helio_)
  19. 43
    Lord of the Barnyard: Killing the Fatted Calf and Arming the Aware in the Cornbelt by Tristan Egolf (askthedust)
  20. 21
    Firmin by Sam Savage (pgmcc)
    pgmcc: Both books take a quirky viewpoint on the world. They are also both about loneliness and isolation, yet really good reads.

(see all 41 recommendations)

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English (373)  French (9)  Spanish (8)  Italian (2)  Swedish (1)  Danish (1)  Hebrew (1)  German (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (397)
Showing 1-5 of 373 (next | show all)
At first, I was completely fascinated by this book, and its many strange characters. I couldn't wait to get back to it, every night. Then the stereotypical language of the African Americans depicted therein began to wear on me. Soon, it was the disgusting nature in which the main character, Ignatius J. Reilly, lived. I would cringe at every mention of his increasing corpulence. Every single character had to scream their statements, and not one of them used a decent tone of voice.
By the end, the dysfunctional relationship between Ignatius J. Reilly and his mother had turned me off. All I could do was root for him to be committed, so the whole thing would be over.
Either there is something wrong with me, or this book is just not that funny, as I did not laugh out loud once. I guess I just did not "get it". I am glad that others could. But I think the most valuable thing I learned was to lie on my left side to be able to fart more.

All in all, if you can stand what I have mentioned, then by all means, read this book. If not, then skip it. ( )
  stephanie_M | Apr 30, 2020 |
I always enjoyed the line from Jonathan Swift - "When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him."
This novel, much like Swift’s, is a scathing satire. Ignatius Reilly is both a truly sad main character and probably a partial analog of the author, whose even sadder demise undercut my casual reading of this brilliantly humorous book.

I read this in my childhood and it stuck with me. I enjoyed many of the scenes immensely and laughed out loud throughout. Around the same time, I picked up Gulliver’s Travels. In both works I felt that the critiques of human foolishness were on point, while they are separated by hundreds of years in both style and authorship, the two works will forever be interwoven in my mind.

I stumbled across the brightly colored Confederacy of Dunces volume in a family member’s house, remembered it, and then sought it out. She had been telling me about her thesis, which had involved Pope’s “The Dunciad,” which I later read and enjoyed as well. I seemed to have an obsession with the word “Dunce” in my youth, for the same reason I felt drawn to certain other unusual words I won’t mention.
Little did I know that this novel was a polished masterpiece of subtle philosophy and an effective and enjoyable character study. I did not know who Boethius was until later, but I still cherished the novel, and identified with the skewed perspective, which occupied an overblown space in my head, as I replayed the scenes later, always picturing the main character as John Candy from Planes, Trains, and Automobiles.

The style is not for everyone, but it is a shame when any author's reputation interferes with anyone's enjoyment of a rewarding novel. ( )
  LSPopovich | Apr 8, 2020 |
"… the Ignatius Reilly story had made him depressed, and he wished he were away from Constantinople Street." (pg. 309)

I really didn't want to add myself to the ranks of those no doubt uncultured readers who didn't get the 'brilliance' of this book, but goddammit if A Confederacy of Dunces wasn't an absolute chore. Plot, dialect and structure are very difficult to follow, whilst the prose is tediously verbose. The characters – particularly the protagonist, Ignatius – are, as other reviewers have mentioned, intensely dislikeable. Normally, this isn't a problem for me (my favourite literary character is Harry Flashman), but reading the "bloated derelict" Ignatius (pg. 303) and the 'dunces' in confederacy around him, I felt like my eyes were being peeled.

I was attracted to the premise of the book, and the story behind its publication is an interesting one. John Kennedy Toole is every struggling writer's malignant fantasy: the maltreated suicide whose battered manuscript is vindicated after his death. "If you wasn't a dirty cop, I'd punch you right in the nose," one character says on page 176, and, well, that is life: a corpulent mess with the dice weighted against you, that attacks you if you don't comply and wearies you if you lack the taste for it. You want to hit back, but it can always hit harder.

There's certainly method in the author's madness, and many of those who have analysed the book at length have pointed out literary intricacies in its plotting and worldview. I had the same problem with Heller's Catch-22; reading it was like nails on a chalkboard to me, and I wasn't prepared to laboriously sift through its clutter in order to 'get' its joke. My valve can't take it. Goddamn it, shut up about the valve. ( )
  Mike_F | Feb 13, 2020 |
Would be pseudo intellectual edgelords in high school carry this around.. ( )
  easytarget | Feb 6, 2020 |
Didn't finish. I don't need this guy's voice inside my head. Yeesh. ( )
  CiaraCat | Jan 9, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 373 (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)
This is the kind of book one wants to keep quoting from. I could, with keen pleasure, copy all of Jones's dialogue out and then get down to the other characters. Apart from being a fine funny novel (but also comic in the wider sense, like Gargantua or Ulysses), this is a classic compendium of Louisiana speech. What evidently fascinated Toole (a genuine scholar, MA Columbia and so on) about his own town was something that A.J. Liebling noted in his The Earl of Louisiana: the existence of a New Orleans city accent close to the old Al Smith tonality, 'extinct in Manhattan', living alongside a plantation dialect which cried out for accurate recording.
added by SnootyBaronet | editObserver, Anthony Burgess
El protagonista de esta novela es uno de los personajes más memorables de la literatura norteamericana: Ignatus Reilly -una mezcla de Oliver Hardy delirante, Don Quijote adiposo y santo Tomás de Aquino, perverso, reunidos en una persona-, que a los treinta años aún vive con su estrafalaria madre, ocupado en escribir una extensa y demoledora denuncia contra nuestro siglo, tan carente de teología y geometría como de decencia y buen gusto, un alegado desquiciado contra una sociedad desquiciada. Por una inesperada necesidad de dinero, se ve 'catapultado en la fiebre de la existencia contemporánea', embarcándose en empleos y empresas de lo más disparatado.
added by Pakoniet | editLecturalia

Ruggero Bianchi
settembre 1998
Il caso di Una banda di idioti di John Kennedy Toole ricorda sorprendentemente, per molti versi, quello di Il giovane Holden di J.D. Salinger. Opere, entrambe, di autori (quasi) esordienti e comunque alla loro prima esperienza nel campo della narrativa lunga. E scritte, entrambe, da artisti irrequieti e verosimilmente nevrotici, non disposti a campare sulla sinecura del loro primo successo. Conosciamo tutti, di Salinger, la scelta di centellinare i propri scritti e di difendere la sua scelta esistenziale, una sorte di coleridgiana morte-in-vita. Ma pochi sanno della fine di Toole, nato nel 1937 e suicidatosi nel 1969, a soli trentadue anni, lasciando alla madre il compito di trasformare in bestseller e in classico moderno un libro che forse non pensava di poter mai pubblicare e che, negli Stati Uniti, uscì grazie soltanto al parere autorevole (sebbene segretamente perplesso) del celebre critico Walter Percy, che firma anche l’introduzione all’edizione italiana.Ma le analogie non si fermano qui. Sia Il govane Holden che Una banda di idioti pongono, fin dal titolo, grossi problemi alla bravura dei traduttori.
Il primo alludendo, con la dizione originale di The Catcher in the Rye, alle figure del baseball e alle coltivazioni del mais; il secondo chiamando in causa, sotto la formula di A Confederacy of Duncies, la realtà di un Sud "confederato" nella guerra civile e l’indimenticato poema di Alexander Pope, The Dunciad (1728), un capolavoro satirico inglese del primo Settecento che nessuno oggi legge come nessuno oggi legge il Parini e, probabilmente, per le stesse ragioni. Come se non bastasse, ai due romanzi è toccata di fatto la medesima sorte in Italia. The Catcher in the Rye di Salinger, uscito nel 1952 nel nostro Paese con il titolo Vita da uomo (Casini editore, traduzione di Jacopo Darca), divenne un bestseller grazie alla nuova edizione di Einaudi del 1961 (trad. di A. Motti). A Confederacy of Duncies passò inosservato dal pubblico una quindicina d’anni fa, sebbene Luciana Bianciardi vincesse, per la sua traduzione oggi ripubblicata in altra cornice, il Premio Monselice 1983.
added by cf66 | editTuttolibri, Ruggero Bianchi

» Add other authors (15 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Toole, John Kennedyprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Capus, AlexTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Percy, WalkerForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Salmenoja, MargitTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
SanjulianCover artistsecondary 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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Average: (3.96)
0.5 23
1 193
1.5 19
2 311
2.5 67
3 665
3.5 215
4 1322
4.5 241
5 1874

Penguin Australia

4 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141182865, 0141023465, 0141045647, 0241951593

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