John Kennedy Toole had committed suicide over a decade before this book had eventually been published, and thereafter won a posthumous Pulitzer. This book is one of the rare ones that made me laugh at every turn of a page. The dark comedy and the constant ridicule of American consumerism make it equally thought-provoking and hilarious. There were so many times I guffa. There were so many times I guffawed and then transitioned into a sad smile on reflecting on how the absurdity of the passages hold true in the modern world especially with the Trump administration in power.
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A Confederacy of Dunces is a picaresque novel by American novelist John Kennedy Toole which reached publication in , eleven years after Toole's suicide. The book's title refers to an epigram from Jonathan Swift 's essay, Thoughts on Various Subjects, Moral and Diverting : "When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him.
Reilly, is an educated but slothful year-old man living with his mother in the Uptown neighborhood of earlys New Orleans who, in his quest for employment, has various adventures with colorful French Quarter characters. Toole wrote the novel in during his last few months in Puerto Rico. Ignatius Jacques Reilly is something of a modern Don Quixote —eccentric, idealistic, and creative, sometimes to the point of delusion.
He disdains modernity, particularly pop culture. The disdain becomes his obsession: he goes to movies in order to mock their perversity and express his outrage with the contemporary world's lack of "theology and geometry".
He prefers the scholastic philosophy of the Middle Ages , and the Early Medieval philosopher Boethius in particular. The workings of his pyloric valve play an important role in his life, reacting strongly to incidents in a fashion that he likens to Cassandra in terms of prophetic significance. Ignatius is of the mindset that he does not belong in the world and that his numerous failings are the work of some higher power. He continually refers to the goddess Fortuna as having spun him downwards on her wheel of fortune.
Ignatius loves to eat, and his masturbatory fantasies lead in strange directions. His mockery of obscene images is portrayed as a defensive posture to hide their titillating effect on him. Although considering himself to have an expansive and learned worldview, Ignatius has an aversion to ever leaving the town of his birth, and frequently bores friends and strangers with the story of his sole, abortive journey out of New Orleans, a trip to Baton Rouge on a Greyhound Scenicruiser bus, which Ignatius recounts as a traumatic ordeal of extreme horror.
The novel repeatedly refers to Myrna and Ignatius having engaged in tag-team attacks on the teachings of their college professors. For most of the novel, she is seen only in the regular correspondence which the two sustain since her return to New York, a correspondence heavily weighted with sexual analysis on the part of Myrna and contempt for her apparent sacrilegious activity by Ignatius.
Officially, they both deplore everything the other stands for. Though neither of them will admit it, their correspondence indicates that, separated though they are by half a continent, many of their actions are meant to impress one another. Irene Reilly is the mother of Ignatius. She has been widowed for 21 years. At first, she allows Ignatius his space and drives him where he needs to go, but throughout the course of the novel she learns to stand up for herself. She also has a drinking problem, most frequently indulging in muscatel , although Ignatius exaggerates that she is a raving, abusive drunk.
She falls for Claude Robichaux, a fairly well-off man with a railroad pension and rental properties. At the end of the novel, she decides she will marry Claude. But first, she agrees with Santa Battaglia who has not only recently become Mrs. Reilly's new best friend, but also harbors an intense dislike for Ignatius that Ignatius is insane and arranges to have him sent to a mental hospital.
Toole provides comical descriptions of two of the films Ignatius watches without naming them; they can be recognized as Billy Rose's Jumbo and That Touch of Mink , both Doris Day features released in This is most likely Ingmar Bergman 's Winter Light , released in early In another passage, Irene Reilly recalls the night Ignatius was conceived: after she and her husband viewed Red Dust , released in October The book is famous for its rich depiction of New Orleans and the city's dialects, including Yat.
A bronze statue of Ignatius J. Reilly can be found under the clock on the down-river side of the block of Canal Street, New Orleans , the former site of the D. The statue mimics the opening scene: Ignatius waits for his mother under the D. Holmes clock, clutching a Werlein's shopping bag, dressed in a hunting cap, flannel shirt, baggy pants and scarf, 'studying the crowd of people for signs of bad taste.
Various local businesses are mentioned in addition to D. Some readers from elsewhere assume Ignatius's favorite soft drink, Dr. Nut , to be fictitious, but it was an actual local soft drink brand of the era. The "Paradise Hot Dogs" vending carts are an easily recognized satire of those actually branded "Lucky Dogs".
Key parts of some chapters are outside of the main narrative. In Consolation , sections of narrative prose alternate with metrical verse. In Confederacy, such narrative interludes vary more widely in form and include light verse , journal entries by Ignatius, and also letters between himself and Myrna.
A copy of the Consolation of Philosophy within the narrative itself also becomes an explicit plot device in several ways. As outlined in the introduction to a later revised edition, the book would never have been published if Toole's mother had not found a smeared carbon copy of the manuscript left in the house following Toole's suicide, at She was persistent and tried several different publishers, to no avail.
Thelma repeatedly called Walker Percy , an author and college instructor at Loyola University New Orleans , to demand for him to read it. He initially resisted; however, as he recounts in the book's foreword:. There was no getting out of it; only one hope remained—that I could read a few pages and that they would be bad enough for me, in good conscience, to read no farther. Usually I can do just that.
Indeed the first paragraph often suffices. My only fear was that this one might not be bad enough, or might be just good enough, so that I would have to keep reading. In this case I read on. And on. First with the sinking feeling that it was not bad enough to quit, then with a prickle of interest, then a growing excitement, and finally an incredulity: surely it was not possible that it was so good.
The book was published by LSU Press in It won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in In , Blackstone Audio released an unabridged audiobook of the novel, read by Barrett Whitener. While Tulane University in New Orleans retains a collection of Toole's papers, and some early drafts have been found, the location of the original manuscript is unknown.
There have been repeated attempts to turn the book into a film. Later, John Candy and Chris Farley were touted for the lead, but both of them, like Belushi, also died at an early age, leading many to ascribe a curse to the role of Ignatius. Director John Waters was interested in directing an adaptation that would have starred Divine , who also died at an early age, as Ignatius.
British performer and writer Stephen Fry was at one point commissioned to adapt Toole's book for the screen. John Goodman , a longtime resident of New Orleans, was slated to play Ignatius at one point. A version adapted by Steven Soderbergh and Scott Kramer, and slated to be directed by David Gordon Green , was scheduled for release in Levy, and Dan Hedaya as Mr.
Various reasons are cited as to why the Soderbergh version has yet to be filmed. They include disorganization and lack of interest at Paramount Pictures , the head of the Louisiana State Film Commission being murdered, and the devastating effects of Hurricane Katrina on New Orleans.
In , there was a version in negotiation with director James Bobin and potentially starring Zach Galifianakis. In a interview, Steven Soderbergh remarked "I think it's cursed.
I'm not prone to superstition, but that project has got bad mojo on it. It set a record as the company's highest-grossing production. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Dewey Decimal. Novels portal. Retrieved 11 November The Gemsbok. Archived from the original on November 30, Retrieved November 29, Southern Cultures review. Cambridge: Chadwyck-Healey. Archived from the original on Retrieved A lifetime of rejection broke John Kennedy Toole. But his aged mother believed in his talent, found a publisher for his novel and rescued his memory from oblivion".
Louisiana culture from the colonial era to Katrina. LSU Press. Retrieved 15 March English in the southern United States. Cambridge University Press. Tulane University. Archived from the original on 16 July A confederacy of dunces. The Millions. Archived from the original on April 28, Retrieved 15 January Confederacy of dunces, John Kennedy; Shale, actor. Archived from the original on 4 April Retrieved 1 April Archived from the original on 22 January Gambit New Orleans News and Entertainment.
We need John Kennedy Toole’s ‘A Confederacy of Dunces’ now more than ever
With forceful eloquence, Jonathan Rosenbaum was one of the first critics to put forward this idea in the Soho News when the book was first published in The heroes and victims of reactionary satire are usually the same people. They live according to an improbable cosmic law that declares human personality to be an unalterable given, incapable of undergoing any development or improvement. Why do some critics demand that novels must feature change? Is a reader left dissatisfied and undernourished if a character makes it through a book epiphany-free? Do people in the real world always change and grow?
A Confederacy of Dunces: a Pulitzer winner's struggle to find a publisher
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. Ignatius J. Reilly is a flatulent frustrated scholar deeply learned in Medieval philosophy and American junk food, a brainy mammoth misfit imprisoned in a trashy world of Greyhound Buses and Doris Day movies. He is in violent revolt against the entire modern age. A Confederacy of Dunces is an American comic masterpiece that outswifts Swift, whose poem gives the book its title. Holmes department store.
A Confederacy of Dunces
A Confederacy of Dunces is a picaresque novel by American novelist John Kennedy Toole which reached publication in , eleven years after Toole's suicide. The book's title refers to an epigram from Jonathan Swift 's essay, Thoughts on Various Subjects, Moral and Diverting : "When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him. Reilly, is an educated but slothful year-old man living with his mother in the Uptown neighborhood of earlys New Orleans who, in his quest for employment, has various adventures with colorful French Quarter characters. Toole wrote the novel in during his last few months in Puerto Rico. Ignatius Jacques Reilly is something of a modern Don Quixote —eccentric, idealistic, and creative, sometimes to the point of delusion. He disdains modernity, particularly pop culture.