Book Review: A Confederacy of Dunces

A Confederacy of Dunces

John Kennedy Toole

Grove Weidenfeld

405 pages

When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him.

Jonathan Swift

A Confederacy of Dunces is the 1981 Pulitzer prize winner that was published posthumously; Toole had committed suicide back in 1969.  Toole’s mother, Thelma Toole, busted her butt in order to find someone to back the novel, finally convincing author Walker Percy to read it.  Percy did so reluctantly, but immediately realized what a jewel Confederacy was.  The rest was, as they say, history.

Ignatius J Reilly is a thirty something year old social outcast living with his mother in New Orleans, LA.  He is quite deluded by his perverse worldview.  After a car accident in the beginning of the book, Ignatius is forced to seek employment.  One job that he takes on is as a bookkeeper at Levy Pants.  He is quickly able to  make his own rules, evidenced when he notes–

. . . I avoid the bleak first hour of the working day during which my still sluggish senses and body make every chore a penance. I find that in arriving later, the work which I do perform is of a much higher quality.

In reality, Ignatius does very little work.  One of my favorite parts had to do with Ignatius throwing the filing away, as opposed to actually filing it, which appeared to tedious to him.

Ignatius’s attitude is by far the comic infusor of the book.  It is one of the few books that caused me to laugh out loud.  Although Ignatius would be absolutely repellent in person, I can’t help but be drawn to him as a character, only because of the comedic aspect.

My review doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of this genius novel. A Confederacy of Dunces will always be considered one of my favorite books of all times.  I was married in New Orleans and it remains one of my favorite cities of all time.  I love the Cajun feel of the novel, and I think the location makes the book even more important to me.  I urge anyone who has yet to read this book to do so as soon as possible!

Other Reviews:

The Novel World

Steph & Tony Investigate

I purchased this book.

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8 Responses

  1. I keep forgetting I want to read this book! Mostly because of the cover. 😀

  2. I need to reread this. I read it in college in a satire class, along with Babbit by Sinclair Lewis, and the two books got so entwined in my head I can’t remember what happened in either! I really need to reread them both.

  3. I love this book! Isn’t he one of the most memorable characters? I mean, like you said, you probably wouldn’t like him in real life but his character is just so over the top he’s great.

  4. I really need to read this one. Like Jill, I keep forgetting I want to. 🙂

  5. Ah another to add to my list. So many people list this as one of their favorites.

  6. Can’t tell you how long this has ben on my ‘to read’ list. So many people love this, but one member of my book club (our taste is usually similar) is always very vocally opposed when it comes up. Think that keeps putting me off…

  7. Oh, I’m so glad you liked this! I can see how it might not be for everyone, but it’s so funny and brimming with life. I’ve never been to New Orleans, but I really want to!

  8. I have this book on my Kindle and really want to read it but never seem to get round to it. Thanks for the review – must bump this up my pile 🙂

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