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A Confederacy of Dunces Paperback – Jan 21 1994


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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  See all reviews (652 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #28,619 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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

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

4.3 out of 5 stars

Most helpful customer reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Perry Moose Man Compton on March 22 2007
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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Shelton Seabold on July 22 2007
Format: Paperback
What a time capsule this novel is: Set in pre-Katrina New Orleans---loooong before that, it is a perfect-pitched novel of the city, capturing the rollicking good times and oddness that the place is--or was. I love anything Southern, but especially literature, and "Confederacy" read like a cross between "Bark of the Dogwood" and one of Vonnegut's books, say, "Slaughter House Five." It's a shame that Toole never lived to see how many people have come to love this book. For THAT,I recommend "The Neon Bible" if you want more of the author. Must also recommend the novels "Katzenjammer" by McCrae, and "Secret Life of Bees" by Sue Monk Kidd.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Christa DeGrazia on Dec 7 2007
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Christine Chen on June 9 2003
Format: Paperback
Although I'm usually pretty critical of books, it takes a lot in order for me to give a book only one star. I picked this one up because it had won a Pulitzer and I was going to New Orleans soon and wanted some relevant (fictional) reading. I don't deny that Toole had some ambitious aims when he began this book--and yes, I agree it's a satire. But I didn't find it that effective because I could barely recognize humanity in these people. I usually think of satire as a social criticism involving humor and exaggeration. This book is filled with exaggerations--but I really didn't find it funny at all. Moreover, I could see what types of connections the author was trying to make with his critique, but I didn't find them at all compelling or even believable. In fact, I found the casting to be trite and ill-formed and am forced to agree with previous reviewers in saying that the majority of the book seemed redundant and annoying.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Paul J. Fitzgerald on Dec 2 2007
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Nice Girl on April 12 2007
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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