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A Confederacy of Dunces (Penguin Modern…

A Confederacy of Dunces (Penguin Modern Classics) (original 1980; edition 2000)

by John Kennedy Toole, Walker Percy (Foreword)

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16,488356107 (3.97)1 / 533
Title:A Confederacy of Dunces (Penguin Modern Classics)
Authors:John Kennedy Toole
Other authors:Walker Percy (Foreword)
Info:Penguin Classics (2000), Paperback, 352 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:funny, novel, American, literature, fiction, humor,

Work details

A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole (1980)

  1. 224
    Catch-22 by Joseph Heller (InvisiblerMan)
  2. 61
    The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger (mcenroeucsb)
    mcenroeucsb: Books with Delusional/Enlightened Outcast protagonists
  3. 61
    One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey (mcenroeucsb)
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  4. 72
    The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz (citygirl, 2810michael)
  5. 40
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  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
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    mcenroeucsb: Books with Amusing Rogue protagonists
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  8. 41
    The Dog of the South by Charles Portis (framberg)
    framberg: less well known but similar type of humor
  9. 52
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  10. 42
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  11. 31
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  12. 21
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    mcenroeucsb: Satirical in the American South
  13. 10
    Kinflicks by Lisa Alther (ainsleytewce)
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. 21
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  17. 43
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  18. 43
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  19. 32
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  20. 21
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    rabornj: same type of character humor

(see all 37 recommendations)


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English (335)  French (8)  Spanish (7)  Italian (1)  Swedish (1)  Danish (1)  German (1)  Hebrew (1)  Dutch (1)  All (356)
Showing 1-5 of 335 (next | show all)
I didn't like it at first ... but the humor kinda' grew on me. Would be an interesting book for a discussion. ( )
  SMBrick | Feb 25, 2018 |
Excerpts from my original GR review (Apr 09):
-This is a book that begs to be read simply given the backstory of the unfortunate author. Once I read this I felt that, had Toole lived and been involved in publishing his work, he would have further edited and cleaned up (and shortened). This is an engaging comic adventure. Ignatius Reilly is a hoot. His extremely elevated sense of self-worth contrasts hilariously with his plight. ( )
  ThoughtPolice | Feb 24, 2018 |
Un livre dont la première page arbore un zeugma, c'est prometteur. Mais bon, j'ai tendance à apprécier les personnages intelligents, et ce livre regorge de personnages pas des plus brillants, voire carrément crispants de bêtise. J'aurais voulu aimer ce livre, vraiment, mais il m'a angoissée, par la bêtise de ses personnages, et du personnage principal en particulier! On ne peut donc pas dire que ce soit un mauvais livre, parce qu'arriver à me crisper à ce point, il fallait le faire, et puis il me reste en tête plusieurs jours après l'avoir fini, le jeu des personnages fonctionne admirablement, l'intrigue est bonne, les croisements, coïncidences, tout ça, c'est chouette, vraiment. S'il n'y avait pas cette bêtise...
Je sais, je sais, avec un titre pareil, j'aurais pu me douter qu'il y avait anguille sous roche...

Allez zou, le zeugma, parce que c'est vous et parce que je kiffe: "Des lèvres pleines, boudeuses, s'avançaient sous la moustache noire et broussailleuse et, à leur commissure, s'enfonçaient en petits plis pleins de désapprobation et de miettes de chips." ( )
  elisala | Feb 16, 2018 |
I’ve put off reading this book for about 5 years. I’ve always known it was critically acclaimed, and I’ve always known it was a “one-of-a-kind,” novel, but for some reason it had never really called to me.

A week before I decided to read it, I came across it twice – once in an article about Underrated Novels, which named Skippy Dies as one, describing it “for fans of A Confederacy of Dunces.” Another article listed A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole as one of the “50 Coolest Books Ever.”

Well, I loved Skippy Dies, and forget that A Confederacy of Dunces won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1981 – it was listed as one of the 50 Coolest Books Ever! If that’s not a good enough reason to read a book, I don’t know what is!

The title of the novel comes from a Jonathan Swift quote “When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him.”

That seemingly innocent sentence is enough to give you a sense of what kind of novel A Confederacy of Dunces is and the kind of characters you will encounter along the way.

The “genius” in this case, is the novel’s protagonist, (I’d like to think of him as an anti-hero) Ignatius J. Reilly, a highly educated, lazy, philosophical slob, and staunch defender of religion, morality and decency; and the dunces, presumably the other flamboyant, hilarious characters around him that make up this strangely comic, and highly entertaining book.

Set in New Orleans, and the colorful French Quarter, the novel presents a particularly trying time in Ignatius’ life: looking for and keeping a job after being involved in an incident with his mother, in the beginning of the novel. This seemingly routine and boring task of looking for a job turns into something of a (mis)adventure for Ignatius, who wreaks havoc where ever he goes.

A Confederacy of Dunces is chockfull of quirky characters in varying degrees of eccentricity and strangeness, and Ignatius Reilly, has, without a doubt, one of the most annoying personalities in fiction. His opinions and behavior throughout the novel are consistently appalling and annoying, and that is exactly what makes this book so entertaining and readable.

Thirty-year-old, obese Ignatius J. Reilly is so un-cool that he’s actually cool. ( )
  aychayen | Jan 7, 2018 |
This novel has always been on my bucket list, mostly because of the history of its publishing. The Walker Percy introduction to the novel details how the author's mother pushed this manuscript on him, wanting someone to recognize the genius of her son who committed suicide years before. That combined with the title that we learn is from a Jonathan Swift essay, "When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him.”,- makes for compelling interest in this lost treasure. Though I can say that the humorous portrait of Ignatius Reilly, "A green hunting cap squeezed the top of the fleshy balloon of a head," will stay with me, I can't say that I loved this novel. Ignatius is the epitome of the overweight, lazy, overeducated,hypochondriac who lives home complaining to his mother as he writes his thoughts in big Chief notebooks that cover the floor of his bedroom. The family's need for money after a car accident forces Ignatius to get a job, first in Levy Pants where he tries to lead a labor revolt,and then selling Paradise hot dogs,where he eats all the profits. The novel also depicts his poor mother,struggling to make a life for herself, an abused policeman, and a pants factory owner whose wife berates him endlessly. The character portraits are the highlight of the novel and though the hair brained schemes and predicaments are amusing at times the whole read left me unappreciative. Glad I checked it off but would not recommend it to a friend. ( )
  novelcommentary | Dec 17, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 335 (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)
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 (22 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Toole, John Kennedyprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Capus, AlexTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Percy, WalkerForewordsecondary 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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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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:08 -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)

» see all 17 descriptions

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Average: (3.97)
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2.5 67
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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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