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501 of 530 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Comic Masterpiece
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...
Published on July 17, 2000 by J. Mullin

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90 of 107 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars It didn't make me laugh...
I actually liked the book. It's so life-like. I know far too many people that are just as awful and obnoxious as the charecters in it. Very vivid, very depressing. The only character I would really want to spend time with was the cloud of smoke that is Jones. The book was worth it just for Jones.
My main problem with the book was that it failed to make me...
Published on April 16, 2000 by Aurora Dalton-Lloyd


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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Bible of Comedy, February 25, 2001
By 
William (Los Angeles, CA United States) - See all my reviews
"A Confederacy of Dunces" is not even questionably the greatest novel ever written in the realm of comedy. It's not an attempt at greatness, not a shingle thrown at the moon - it's the kind of thing that you read and have this tremendous pang. This sadness that you never get in a book - you know it has to end at some point and that's by far the worst realization. The only bad thing here is that it ends at all.
What JK Toole accomplished here is beyond reason. What's worse is that you read it and know the pain he had in not seeing it heralded in every bookstore in his lifetime. Toole's rash and sad decision to end his own life is the best argument against suicide I know of. This man was a genius beyond anything we have now. He lacked the faith and certainty of that. The result is that we were robbed of such a possible body of work that the world will never know. The only close comparison is that of Keats whose "name writ in water" was a tragedy to a literate generation of his time. As gigantic and lush as "Confederacy.." is you never put that aside.
That said, this is a Sheherazade of a tale. I suspect that Toole had no idea what he was planning for Ignatius, but that he wrote it as he found it. And what a formula. From the Big Chief tablets to the hot dog cart this is a book that has no equal. It sits in my bathroom rack of books and I just pick it up and read a page and laugh. It's THAT good. Every page is a mystery of writing skill, Toole's characters are vibrant and fully alive always, none resembling the other and they sing when they get going which is immediately.
Reading this means you will never be the same. "The Night of Joy" bar will be a place you want to get a drink, Constantinople a word you actually use. More than anything, you'll be lucky. There's not a thing like this book - nothing even close. Oddly I just read Jon Stewart's "Naked Pictures of Famous People" which was heralded on cover and by friends as "hilarious." Please. I don't know how he made a career.... Idiocy in the aught years is heralded as funny. Not likely.
Read this book and realize how we have since the late 1950's when this was written, devolved into a true "Confederacy of Dunces". The book means more today than it ever did.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the funniest books of all time!, August 8, 2005
By 
Tom Davis Jr. "tjdavisjr" (Shirley, MA United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: A Confederacy of Dunces (Paperback)
Let me preface my review by stating that there is no middle ground with this book. At least I've never met anyone who was indifferent about it. You either love or you hate it. While I'm firmly in the camp of those who think this is a comic masterpiece, I understand why those on the other side think the way they do. After all Ignateous Reilly basically has no redeeming qualities. None. His absolute belief in his own intellectual and moral superiority, and his ensuing poor treatment of everyone around him as a result can make this a hard book to get into. Consequently it can be impossible for the reader to identify with, or feel sympathy for, him. But it's this same attitude that also gives the book it's greatest strength. With this imagined superiority, Ignateous brings a fresh, unique & comical perspective to every situation he encounters. Whether he's leading a rebellion against the management of a factory, attempting to start a new political movement using a certain minority group as a catalyst, or simply trying to work as a hotdog vendor, each scenario rapidly descends into hilarious anarchy as he loses control of the events around him. Add the wonderful descriptions of New Orleans and its various denizens to the mix and this is a classic in my opinion. Bar none! In reading and re-reading this book, I can't help but wonder how many other amazing stories were lost because of the author's early (and self-imposed) demise. But thankfully we still have this wonderful book as a monument to his talent. And that will have to be enough. The bottom line is that A Confederacy of Dunces is devastatingly funny. Give it a try.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a book that will make you smile., August 3, 1996
By A Customer
This review is from: A Confederacy of Dunces (Paperback)
Of all the novels I have read, I consider John Kennedy Toole's A Confederacy of Dunces to be one of the best (and certainly the funniest). I thoroughly enjoyed reading this novel, laughing myself silly at times throughout this zany story. The situations that Ignatius put himself (and others) in were classic and unpredictable.

In my opinion, it's very easy to understand why this novel won a Pulitzer Prize. The character descriptions were brilliant; I could picture someone I knew for every character in the story. Toole's prose made me feel as if I were standing next to Ignatius during his adventures, and I could almost feel the frustration and anger of those who became his "victims." Every character's appearance and personality was described in specific details, as well as the surrounding scenery. The humor used was ingenious, both in content and timing, even at the risk of being stereotypical.

My favorite part of the story came when Ignatius forged the letter to Abelman's Dry Goods. I think it reminded me of that mischievous side of myself, and perhaps suggesting that I myself might do such an act. The contents of the letter was enough to keep me laughing , but then I imagined the look on the faces of Abelman, Levy, and Gonzalez upon reading this letter themselves, and that fueled the fire! Yes, it can be said that I got carried away with this book.

On the negative side of the book, I thought that some of the letters written by Ignatius were alittle long winded and not relevant to the story. Perhaps Toole thought it was important to reinforce this character's mind set to the reader. However, it seemed to me that this was accomplished by the colorful description of behavior throughout the story. In addition, I think that it's safe to say that in this day and age of being "politically correct," this novel probably wouldn't currently win a Pulitzer. I base that on some of the stereotypical character and language depiction, especially with Jones. This novel was placed at a time when racial segregation was still prevalent (which probably explains why it wasn't an issue to the Pulitzer committee). However, even if a current author made a racial degrading reference to a character set during that period, it probably would not acceptable to the current standards.

I really enjoyed taking this adventure with Ignatius. I feel the story was well written, painting a vivid picture in my mind about who exactly we (as the reader) were dealing with. I only wish the ending had turned out with more substance. I felt myself wondering how Ignatius was going to get out of the forgery mess, or if his mother was going to marry Claude, or even if Levy Shorts would be successful. Ironically, I feel this way about Toole himself. It disappoints me that an author with such a gift for writing, would tragically ends his life at such a young age. This inspired me to do some research (see attached), but information on him was very scarce. The biggest tragedy of all (I think), is that we will never enjoy any new works from this talented artist, nor will we know where Ignatius is today. However, this doesn't stop me from keeping a sharp lookout for a large goofy-looking guy, wearing a green hunting cap.
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36 of 44 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars unrealised expectations, April 26, 2013
This review is from: A Confederacy of Dunces (Paperback)
There is no middle ground with the readers of this book. You either love it or hate it. Intensely. If you don't find it to your taste within the first 3 to 4 pages don't bother expecting it to get better. If you do, you will find this a joy worth reading for years to come. I was in the hate category. I found that all of the characters are intensely dislikeable and I wished armageddon on every....single....one. The lovers of this book may say that I just missed the subtleties of the writing but whilst the writing was actually excellent, the content was, to my tastes, neither intelligent, surprising or thought provoking. There were no surprises just continous banality with a few mixed absurdities. It was, however, completely aggrevating.
I hold no anomosity to the lovers of this book. If this is your thing, peace be with the legions of fellow fans. Just don't think that everyone will be one of them. It is one of those anomolies that delight some and reduces others to tears of boredom. Remember, 3 to 4 pages.....
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars w.c. fields as a young man, August 31, 2005
By 
Amazon Customer (Nashville, TN USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: A Confederacy of Dunces (Paperback)
There is something appealing about a misanthrope, and Ignatius in COD was that in spades. It is funny and a catharsis to read from a point of view of someone able to so completely abandon concern for the opinions of their fellow man. There were several old 19th century British novels that used a similar device, but none (that I've read) with so much success.

I personally didn't find it side-splittingly funny, and the protagonist is naturally not someone you easily relate to, but as the story unfolds you can't help but realize how well written the book is, and how consistent it is, and just how brilliant it is. Knowing about the author's tragic story can almost overshadow the read at times, as it is impossible not to wonder how auto-biographical it was- but be that as it may, it has such a variety of well-developed characters and such good and unexpected plot devices, that the passive energy of the story overwhelms the sad undertone. Small wonder it makes it to so many English teacher's summer reading lists.
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41 of 51 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great and enjoyable book, July 31, 2000
By 
Odilon "odilon" (Oak Park, IL USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: A Confederacy of Dunces (Paperback)
I'd heard this book described as social satire told from the perspective of an educated man reduced to selling hot dogs on the streets of New Orleans' French Quarter. I knew the author committed suicide and I was expecting bitter commentary on the absurdity and corruption of the world that later drove him to it. I was very pleasantly surprised. CONFEDERACY OF DUNCES is NOT a suicide note. It's actually rather gentle at times. Despite undertones of desperation and tragedy, it presents a world in which even misfits have their role because the chaos surrounding them is necessary to disrupt complacency and pretense.
It's more a New Orleans novel than a French Quarter novel. The quixotic hero, Ignatius Reilly, lives uptown with his mother in a middle class neighborhood. His pathetic pre-hot dog employer, Levy Pants, is in industrial Bywater. Both those environments receive comic examination along with the French Quarter. There is a delightful complex of subplots involving a well-intentioned policeman, a neglected business, a pirate costume and Ignatius' enthusiasm for founding outlandish political movements. Almost every character introduced gets a larger role. Ignatius' shortcomings are as serious as those of the people complicating his life and suspense arises from concern that he will be ruined when the various subplots' inevitably collide. However, there are also surprise saviors here.
The gay party in the French Quarter is the weakest part, constructed from once daring stereotypes that now seem dated and narrow-minded. This slows the novel's last half somewhat but not enough to wreck Toole's narrative.
Don't let phrases like "literary masterpiece" put you off. (It is that- there's some G. B. Shaw, Jonathan Swift and especially Oscar Wilde behind this, I think.) It's a great book because it's the work of a master storyteller. This tale can capture anyone.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Oh Fortuna!, September 16, 2005
This review is from: A Confederacy of Dunces (Paperback)
This is an excellent book. There are so many levels on which it satisfies. Without a doubt, it is one of the funniest books I have ever read.

This is definitely a book that you either love or hate. There is no middle ground on this one. I wonder if part of that is the fact that comedy is not universal (Some people love Monty Python. Some people hate Monty Python.). The more I talk with people about this work, the more I'm convinced that there is a certain regional aspect that you have to "get" in order for it to be funny. Maybe you have to be a Southern Catholic to "get" it. Maybe you have to have a passing interest in medieval philosophy (or general western philosophy) in order for this to be funny. More likely, it's none of the above as "funny" is so intangible.

I couldn't help but think of Carmina Burana while reading this book. Fortuna is the main character of this work. Each of the minor characters are caught in their own wheel of Fortune from which they can't really escape. The interesting thing is that, in Toole's novel, the wheels have teeth and act like gears. The rising fortunes of one character precipitate a drop in fortunes in another. A drop in fortune in Ignatius ends up raising the fortunes of everyone else (and, in the end, Ignatius too).

In the end, the book is a love story, and Ignatius, like Boethius, ends up understanding happiness comes when Love rules the heart. I would actually recommend that the prospective reader read "The Consolation of Philosophy" before reading this book. It's not really necessary in order to enjoy the book, but I think it makes the book more enjoyable. It certainly gives you an extra chuckle in a few places.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars you have to look at it the right way, January 27, 2008
By 
This review is from: A Confederacy of Dunces (Paperback)
I have read a lot of negative reviews of this book, and I was surprised to see that so many people do not like it, because I'm almost done with it already and I can't put it down. It seems like the majority of people who don't enjoy the book dislike it because they don't think the characters are likeable and they don't think that it's hilarious. I don't know who started the rumor that this book was laugh-out-loud funny, but I promise you the author did not intend it to be that way. The humor is dark and tongue-in-cheek at most, so it won't make you laugh, it will reveal how pathetic and sad the characters really are. It's the kind of humor that pokes fun at society rather than makes you really laugh. If you want to read a hysterical book with idealized, heroic characters, then this is not the book for you. Go read Harry Potter or some kind of book that everyone can understand. If you feel like reading a brilliant work of social satire in which all of the characters are exaggeratedly UNheroic, which in my opinion is more realistic than people who turn out the way you want them to, then you will appreciate this book as great American literature. Yes, there is a lot of burping and other such bodily functions going on in here. You're not supposed to find it endearing and funny, you're supposed to find the main character utterly disgusting! Perhaps the author empathized and identified with his protagonist who was smarter than everyone around him but was tragically lazy and therefore always unsuccessful at everything. Toole perfectly captures the almost (but not quite) humorous plight of a neighborhood dealing with poverty, vice, ignorance, and probably mental health disabilities, for whom nothing can ever go right. It's not laugh-out-loud funny because it's not supposed to be. It is, however, very interesting and different.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars I Don't understand all the hype, May 20, 2010
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Just finished this so-called masterpiece and found it to be an average read at best. Yes, there were parts that made me chuckle, but they ran about even with those that bored me enough to fast forward through some sections. I leave this book without keeping a memory of even one likeable character.
I'm glad for those readers who found this book to be so enthralling. I'm glad we all don't have the same likes and opinions or it would make for a very dull world.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A mandatory read., January 3, 2006
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This review is from: A Confederacy of Dunces (Paperback)
Looking for an American Literary Classic? Discard those notions of "Old Man and the Sea" or "Tom Sawyer" or the like. This is the greatest book written by an American author, and one of the greatest ever written. It's on the level of Don Quixote (indeed, the main character, Ignatius, could be compared to Don Quixote), on the level of any great novel ever written. what makes it so great? The comedy of Ignatius, the philosophical, obese, lazy man who thinks to highly of himself and who any Native New Orleans resident could compare to someone they once met (I was born and raised down there. I can think of at least 3 people myself.) There's also the tradgedy of poor Mrs Reily, the vagrant Jones who needs to work as a porter to evade jail time, and the depressing Officer Mancuso who is looked down on so by his commanding officer. There's also the realism of the city, or indeed, the country depicted here: The failing Levy factory, The sleazy Night of Joy bar, and the strange residents of The Big Easy who interact with each other so comically throughout the book. This blend of such ideals react to make a classic novel.

Why must our high school students be forced to deal with the dated ideals of "Huckleberry Finn", ecspecially when it (and other novels) are passed as comedies? Although Confederacy of Dunces is 40 years old (published around 20 years ago), it still pertains greatly to today's social ideals and is still hilarious. This is the kind of comedy and realism that should be passed through the teenage mind.

Still, it's for everyone. Yes, It does pertain more to New Orleans residents/natives, but everyone will find parallels with their own lives in this novel. They will find great amounts of humor through the protagonist and the people he affects. And they will, indeed, find a great novel that can be treasured for ages.
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A Confederacy of Dunces
A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole (Paperback - 1987)
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