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A Confederacy of Dunces Paperback – January 1, 1987


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 405 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Weidenfeld; Reissue edition (1987)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802130208
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802130204
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.4 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,651 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,207 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

"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

From Library Journal

Narrator Barrett Whitener renders Toole's cast of caricatures with verve enough to satisfy admirers. Toole wrote this novel in Puerto Rico during a hitch in the U.S. Army. In 1966 it was rejected by Simon & Schuster. In 1969 Toole committed suicide. Toole's mother then tried to get it published. After seven years of rejection she showed it to novelist Walker Percy, under whose encouragement it was published by Louisiana State University Press. Many critics praised it as a comic masterpiece that memorably evokes the city of New Orleans and whose robust protagonist is a modern-day Falstaff, Don Quixote, or Gargantua. Toole's prose is energetic, and his talent, had it matured, may have produced a masterpiece. However, listeners who do not feel charmed or amused by a fat, flatulent, gluttonous, loud, lying, hypocritical, self-deceiving, self-centered blowhard who masturbates to memories of a dog and pretends to profundity when he is only full of beans are not likely to survive the first cassette. For fans.?Peter Josyph, New York
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
5 star
1,061
4 star
213
3 star
116
2 star
98
1 star
163
See all 1,651 customer reviews
Ignatius and ALL of the characters in the book were wonderful.
Kitty Wilberforce
And how many times have we read this book and said "I know someone who is just like that guy".
ED CHAMBERLAIN (EDC6@AOL.COM
The book was a fun read, and there were times that I was laughing out loud.
hateater

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

502 of 531 people found the following review helpful By J. Mullin on July 17, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This book is quite simply a comic masterpiece, a novel brimming with original characters, absurd situations, and at its heart a blustery, vulnerable mama's boy named Ignatius J. Reilly. He is one of the most startlingly original characters in modern fiction, and his efforts at hitting the job market after his mother smashes their car will leave you in stitches.
A word on the history of the novel is worth mentioning here. The author, John Kennedy Toole, committed suicide in 1969, and his mother found the hand-written manuscript in her son's papers. She brought them to a publisher, who dreaded having to read even a portion of the work and to notify Toole's mother that it stunk. Instead, he was blown away by Toole's draft, and the rest is history. The novel earned him a posthumous Pulitzer Prize, and it is universally hailed by critics.
Trying to summarize the plot is impossible - the book cannot really be categorized. Ignatius is an over-educated oaf who stays home filling his writing tablets full of his offbeat musings on ancient history, which he plans to organize and publish some day but which presently reside all over his bedroom floor. Rome wasn't built in a day he reminds himself. He cites in footnotes, as authority for some of his offbeat opinions, papers he had previously written and hand-delivered to the local university library for inclusion into their archives. He watches dreadful tv shows and movies, howling at the screen with a mixture of delight and loathing at the teenybopper drivel, and in the privacy of his room his self-gratification is performed while imagining visions of the old family dog.
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127 of 135 people found the following review helpful By Walter V. Cicha on March 17, 2000
Format: Paperback
When I first saw the cover of this paperback in a Georgetown, DC, bookshop a few years ago, I was hesitant to buy it. Simply put, the cover is goofy, and does not do this masterpiece any justice. I am so grateful that I ignored my initial instinct, as I don't remember ever reading a funnier book in the English language than the late John Kennedy Toole's life achievement, nor is there a more memorable character in American literature than I. J. Reilly. The work deserves a 6 star rating! "A Confederacy of Dunces" is more than just incredibly funny, however. It is unusually poignant, gut-wrenchingly sad, and an admirable observation piece on a rather decadent and seemingly lost segment of our society sitting at the mouth of the Mississippi River. I have visited New Orleans three times since 1994 for varied reasons, and the city apparently has not changed in the least since Mr. Toole's late 1960s rendition. His characters continue to stroll and struggle along Bourbon Street and Canal Street, and their troubled spirits infuse every alley and cave of the French Quarter. Just like the district surrounding St. Peter's Square in the city of jazz, Ignatius J. Reilly is out of step with the rest of America. In spite of his repulsive and grossly comical physical presence, he believes in aesthetics and real meaning, in what he perceives to be the truth. For this reason, he is a true literary hero, like Don Quixote, Cyrano de Bergerac and the Good Soldier Schweik before him. One final note: before you buy this book, think about cancelling all your appointments and engagements for the two or three days that follow. They, along with eating and sleeping, undoubtedly will be totally neglected until you finish this 400 page tour de farce.
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191 of 213 people found the following review helpful By sweetmolly on October 10, 2002
Format: Paperback
Reading a highly popular, arguably classic, cult favorite with a fresh eye and without preconceptions is not an easy task. I expected Ignatius J. Reilly to leap off the page at me. I wasn't disappointed. On the first page, outside a staid department store in New Orleans, Ignatius in his usual grotesque costume of green hunting camp and too small flannel shirt is awaiting his mother innocently enough until a policeman decides he is a vagrant and tries to arrest him. A crowd is quickly engaged by his steaming objections and loud protestations. Ignatius is at his best when hollering for help. When his weary mother makes an appearance, "Mother!" he called "Not a moment too soon. I've been seized."
We quickly meet friends and denizens not quite on the underside of New Orleans, but leaning that way. Ignatius is a force of nature that needs to be fed, nurtured, and kept on course not only by his long-suffering mother, but any citizen who happens to cross his path. If Ignatius is left to his own devices, he is like a loose pinball, except a pinball never screams for help.
Ignatius, who is the epitome of pseudo independence and ingratitude, actually is fearful of being left alone. When his mother, for the first time in living memory, decides to have a night out, Ignatius is piteous, "I shall probably be misused by some intruder!" he screamed.
For the first third of the book, I was highly indignant at Ignatius: his selfishness, his arrogance and his ingratitude. Gradually, I became fond of him and then fearful for him. He is underscored with tragedy; he has a vision of a world not of his making and it threatens him. Somehow Mr. Toole gathers up all the threads and the end is not chaos as I feared, but everyone seems to get just what they deserve. I was pleased, and I think you will be too.
-sweetmolly-Amazon Reviewer
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