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A Confederacy of Dunces (1980)

by John Kennedy Toole

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
18,790416172 (3.95)1 / 596
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)
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  3. 61
    One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey (mcenroeucsb)
    mcenroeucsb: Books with Delusional/Enlightened Outcast protagonists
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    mcenroeucsb: Books with Delusional/Enlightened Outcast protagonists
  5. 40
    Handling Sin by Michael Malone (caseydurfee)
  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
    Henderson the Rain King by Saul Bellow (ShelfMonkey)
  8. 41
    The Dog of the South by Charles Portis (framberg)
    framberg: less well known but similar type of humor
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    Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson (mcenroeucsb)
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  10. 31
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  12. 21
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    rabornj: same type of character humor
  13. 43
    The Consolation of Philosophy by Boethius (erezv)
  14. 10
    Kinflicks by Lisa Alther (ainsleytewce)
  15. 21
    Beyond the Great Indoors by Ingvar Ambjørnsen (erlend2)
  16. 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.
  17. 43
    Complete Stories by Flannery O'Connor (ainsleytewce)
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    CGlanovsky: Misguided protagonist gets into a series of misadventures
  20. 10
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(see all 41 recommendations)

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English (388)  Spanish (10)  French (9)  Italian (2)  Swedish (1)  Danish (1)  Hebrew (1)  German (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (414)
Showing 1-5 of 388 (next | show all)
I gave up! People either love or loath this book. Count me in among those that just did not get it! ( )
1 vote RosanaDR | Apr 16, 2021 |
It's supposed to be a satire; I understand that. It can be quite funny; I grant that. But, it is so unpleasant. I don't enjoy books where I'm meant to feel smugly superior to most of the characters. ( )
  A2Seamster | Apr 9, 2021 |
A Confederacy of Dunces is a romp through a series of misadventures in the life of one of literatures most unique main characters: Ignatius J. Reilly is the most disgusting personage set by an author to carry a reader through a novel; self-centered, and mean, slovenly, and ungrateful. Ten years of education paid for by his mother who realizes: "You learnt everything, Ignatius, except how to be a human being."
  RonWelton | Mar 24, 2021 |
Strange, brilliant, insane and demented, insightful, hilarious, unsettling - all of these adjectives describe John Kennedy Toole's Pulitzer-winning A Confederacy of Dunces. Like being drunk at an amusement park, this book kept me off-kilter, and took me on unexpected rides with unforeseen turns, hills, and valleys.

Ignatius J. Reilly is, without question, the oddest character I've ever met in fiction in the 55+ years that I've been reading. He's obese, hypochondrical, narcissistic, barbaric, and probably a genius. I never grew to like him as his self-interest was unceasing. The rest of the cast of characters are probably drawn from true life combined with feverish imagination - Reilly's harried mother; his octogenarian co-worker, Miss Trixie; an unsuccessful police officer. I've not been to New Orleans since I was a child, and don't remember much about it, but it certainly came to life on these pages. If it is actually representative of New Orleans, it's a city I'd like to visit and observe.

I suspect insanity behind the writing. I know little of John Kennedy Toole, except that he took his own life and never saw his book published, never won the accolades that this book attained, or saw how popular a piece of fiction it became. But I have diagnosed him post-mortem with bipolar disorder (which I share); it would be responsible for the highs of the marvellous burble and whimsy of this book, and the lows which led him to suicide.

I didn't love the book, but I did like it very much, and found it grimly amusing. I think I'd have liked it better if I didn't myself feel like a failure, and if I hadn't seen Ignatius J. Reilly's unsuccessful life as a mirror of my own. ( )
  ahef1963 | Mar 19, 2021 |
I've heard a lot of good things about this, but to be honest, I thought it was a total slog. There are some mildly amusing bits, but it was nowhere near as funny as I was told it was, and Toole's writing just doesn't do anything for me. ( )
  skolastic | Feb 2, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 388 (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
Tuttolibri
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 (70 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Toole, John Kennedyprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Capus, AlexTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hannah, JonnyIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Percy, WalkerForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Salmenoja, MargitTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
SanjulianCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
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,
THE EARL OF LOUISIANA
Dedication
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)
Quotations
"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."
“I refuse to ‘look up.’ Optimism nauseates me. It is perverse. Since man’s fall, his proper position in the universe has been one of misery.”
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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.

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Penguin Australia

4 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141182865, 0141023465, 0141045647, 0241951593

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