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A Confederacy of Dunces Paperback – Jan 21 1994

4.3 out of 5 stars 658 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Press; 20th edition (Jan. 21 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802130208
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802130204
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 13.3 x 21 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 408 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars 658 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,154 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Amazon

"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 Lana Lee 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

Oooo-eeee! Toole's outrageous rambling farce comes to life with the wonderful voices of Arte Johnson?surely one of the greatest matches ever of the written to the spoken word. Toole's novel, written in the early 1960s and published posthumously in the early 1980s, is one of the great comic works of the century and still fresh 35 years later. Toole's finest achievement is protagonist Ignatius J. Reilly, a great intellectual and deadbeat glutton who roams the squalor and charm of New Orleans causing enormous chaos, selling a few hot dogs from his weenie wagon, and suffering a pyloric valve shutdown at the general looniness of the characters he meets in places like the Night of Joy nightclub. Johnson has created a unique voice for each of the many fantastic, overblown crazies woven into this wild story. It's unfortunate that the audio version is abridged. Still, the spirit of the original is here. Highly recommended for all listeners who love a great belly laugh at the human condition.?Barbara Valle, El Paso P.L., TX
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Filled with satirical black humor concerning the usually overlooked 'characters' of society, John Kennedy Toole's Pulitzer prize winning novel THE CONFEDERACY OF DUNCES , captures a reality of our society that we like to disregard. In THE CONFEDERACY OF DUNCES the unique tempo and the slow pace of the overall development of the plot creates a feel of dreary, everyday life, while the immediate happenings tend to be absurd, ridiculous, or down right stupid. In many instances Toole will jump between a third person point of view subjective to different characters, or a objective point of view depicting the seen from many angles making the absurdity of the happenings or the actions and words of our hero Ignatius J. Riely painfully clear. Then the long tedious exchanges of letters between Myna Minkoff and Ignatius, or the journals of Ignatius, though still absurd, draws out the story and creates a weary response from the reader. Energetic, dreary, energetic, dreary.... The delicate mixture of excitement and dullness creates a parallel with life, a disturbing realization due to the fact that readers tend to think the actions of the characters in this novel 'not normal'. There are many 'characters' in this novel, to tell the truth all most all characters that appear in this novel are not what people would like to call 'normal'. Still, none can beat Ignatius J. Riely in uniqueness. 'Huge, obese, fractious, fastidious, a latter-day Gargantuan, a Don Quixote of the French Quarter' (Henry Kisor, Chicago Sun-Times), how did this complete slob of a man ever make it to the cover of a best seller? Through out the book he undergoes no mental growth (he does gain some pounds though), and his only reason for even considering moving is threats! What is the point of putting such a complete 'character' in the main role?Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
I'll say this. This novel is quite unlike any other. It's nonconformist to the core, well written and very funny. Now, when I say funny I mean oddball funny, weird funny. The protagonist's love for his dog was really pushing the envelope I thought (that will make sense once you read the novel). This is truly an amazing book. Be patient ... allow yourself to adjust to the author and his comic world-view and you'll be greatly rewarded.

Highly recommended. It deserves its cult status. Truly a unique comic novel, now easily one of my top 5 favorites. Pick up a copy!
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By M. Yakiwchuk TOP 500 REVIEWER on July 24 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
There are very few books that I have read that hold up as well as this one has. Almost 40 years after it was written, almost nothing in this book reads stale or dated. Everything is as fresh and relevant now as the day it was published. The language, character, and place, are all uniquely New Orlean'. But the story, is one for all time. Ignatius Reilly, 30 years old, University educated, lives at home with his long-suffering mother. The dialogue in this book is spot on. One word of caution: Don't think of this book as a comedy. I did, expecting to find many laughs. There aren't. There was one laugh-out-loud funny moment (for me) when the Reilly character is fantasizing about what he would do while on a bus ride, but that's it. I found Ignatius Reilly to be a little frustrating as a protagonist, as were some of the supporting characters. In the end, however, the circumstances around every major character change, and I enjoyed their progressions. Read A Confederacy of Dunces if: You are a 30-something person who still lives at home with his parents and haven't held down a "real" job. OR if you can relate in some way to this situation. Do not read A Confederacy of Dunces if: You are expecting a laugh-out-loud belly-buster. It's not a barn-burner of a novel. But it rings true. And books like this are hard to come by. A shame the author only wrote two before taking his own life. 5/5
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Format: Paperback
A classic story that makes me a bit sad to think about considering that the author died young and by his own hand. Given American culture, that may be part of the appeal of the book to many. By any standard, however, this is a great book, with highly memorable, vividly described characters, none more so than the central figure Ignatius, a likeable, eccentric oaf. His part-time sidekick, Myrna Minkoff, is also a hoot, and I like it when the two of them gang up. Although it's in many ways a timeless story, the manner of speaking of the characters is probably representative of the times (1950s?). Given the short life of the author, the book has a bit of a tragic backdrop that affected my feelings for it, and the New Orleans setting with Katrina occuring a few years ago may now also affect my memories of it. Author of Adjust Your Brain: A Practical Theory for Maximizing Mental Health.
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Format: Paperback
This book is hysterical and very well-written with lots of good description. What makes it work best, though, are the minor characters. They're so interesting and have all their own motives. Today it seems that most minor characters, both in books and film, just stand around, waiting to say something that the main character can use to solve a mystery or make a joke. Then they are gone, their purpose fulfilled. They are pointless. The ones here, though, serve alot of purpose and color the story. It's not surprising it was written in the 1960's. A book written today probably wouldn't have minor characters so flushed out and interesting. I also recommend "God is a Woman: Dating Disasters" and "Schmucks"; both of which are very funny, although not as well-written as this book. Hey, not all books can be pulitzer winners!
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