A Confederacy of Dunces
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A Confederacy of Dunces

4.2 199
by John Kennedy Toole

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A Confederacy of Dunces is an American comic masterpiece. John Kennedy Toole's hero, one Ignatius J. Reilly, is "huge, obese, fractious, fastidious, a latter-day Gargantua, a Don Quixote of the French Quarter. His story bursts with wholly original characters, denizens of New Orleans' lower depths, incredibly true-to-life dialogue, and the zaniest series of high…  See more details below


A Confederacy of Dunces is an American comic masterpiece. John Kennedy Toole's hero, one Ignatius J. Reilly, is "huge, obese, fractious, fastidious, a latter-day Gargantua, a Don Quixote of the French Quarter. His story bursts with wholly original characters, denizens of New Orleans' lower depths, incredibly true-to-life dialogue, and the zaniest series of high and low comic adventures" (Henry Kisor, Chicago Sun-Times).

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Pulitzer Prize Winner

“A masterwork . . . the novel astonishes with its inventiveness . . . it is nothing less than a grand comic fugue.”—The New York Times Book Review

“A corker, an epic comedy, a rumbling, roaring avalanche of a book.”—The Washington Post

“An astonishingly good novel, radiant with intelligence and artful high comedy.”—Newsweek

“One of the funniest books ever written . . . it will make you laugh out loud till your belly aches and your eyes water.”—The New Republic

“The episodes explode one after the other like fireworks on a stormy night. No doubt about it, this book is destined to become a classic.”—The Baltimore Sun

“The dialogue is superbly mad. You simply sweep along, unbelievably entranced.”—The Boston Globe

“An astonishingly original and assured comic spree.”—New York Magazine

“As hilarious as it indisputably is, A Confederacy of Dunces is a serious and important work.”— Los Angeles Herald Examiner

"If a book's price is measured against the laughs it provokes, A Confederacy of Dunces is the bargain of the year." — Time

“A brilliant and evocative novel.” —San Francisco Chronicle

"I found myself laughing out loud again and again as I read this ribald book." —Christian Science Monitor

“Crazy magnificent once-in-a-blue-moon first novel. . . . There is a touch of genius about Toole and what he has created.” —Publishers Weekly

“A masterpiece of character comedy . . . brilliant, relentless, delicious, perhaps even classic.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Astonishing, extravagant, lunatic, satiric, and peculiar, but it is above all genuine, skillful, and unsentimentally comic.” —Booklist

Ignatius J. Reilly is Bette Midler’s favorite hero of fiction (Vanity Fair, August 2008)

Henry Kisor
What a roaring, rollicking, foot stomping wonder this book is.
Chicago Sun-Times
"If a book's price is measured against the laughs it provokes, A confederacy of Dunces is the bargain of the year."
"An astonishingly good novel, radiant with intelligence and artful high comedy."
San Francisco Chronicle
"A brilliant and evocative ovel."
New Republic
"A gem -- one of the funniest books ever written."
The Washington Post
"A corker, an epic comedy, a rumbling, roaring avalanche of a book."
The Boston Globe
"The dialogue is superbly mad. You simply sweep along, unbelievably entranced."
The Baltimore Sun
"The episodes explode one after the other like fireworks on a story night. No doubt about it, this book is destined to become a classic."
Rolling Stone
"A Confederacy of Dunces has been reviewed almost everywhere, and every reviewer has loved it. For once, everyone is right."
Monitor Christian Science
"I found myself laughing out loud again and again as I read this ribald book."
Examiner Los Angeles Herald
"As hilarious as it indisputably is, A Confederacy of Dunces is a seriouis important work."
New York Times Book Review
"A masterwork of comedy.... The novel astonishes with its inventiveness, it lives in the play of its voices. A Confederacy of DUnces is nothing less than a grand comic fugue."

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Product Details

Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
Publication date:
Evergreen Book Series
Edition description:
1st Evergreen ed
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
6.28(w) x 8.04(h) x 1.09(d)
800L (what's this?)

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A Confederacy of Dunces 4.1 out of 5 based on 1 ratings. 374 reviews.
bossbaggs More than 1 year ago
Ignatius J. Reilly, Toole's main character in this hilarious tour de force, stands alone atop the heap of modern anti-heroes. After reading Confederacy, one never encounters the wackiness of life without asking, "What would Ignatius do?" This book, testimony to Toole's brave genius, takes aim at the twin inanities of multiculturalism and political correctness, years before they fouled our national consciousness. Don't get me wrong. Toole is absolutely fair and even-handed: everybody gets theirs in this fearless and funny book. The plot is tight. The action is fast-paced. The characters are memorable. The ending is madly happy. And along the way, every page is crammed with humor, insight and deeply appreciative humanity. Long live JK Toole! Long live Ignatius!
Atticus_Caufield More than 1 year ago
I'll say it: Reading A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole wasn't always a pleasant experience for me. I was equal parts sympathetic, frustrated, and just outright incredulous at the actions of its main character, Ignatius J. Reilly. In truth, that is probably a testament to Kennedy Toole's unique voice and vision of a well-drawn character never before seen in the likes of literature. It's what Kennedy Toole doesn't say about Reilly and his thought process that becomes most frustrating and compelling. Is he just really very spoiled and sheltered? Completely out of touch? Mentally ill? It's all left up in the air like some of the best poetry, and spaces are left for the reader to bring their own meaning to the proceedings. A Confederacy of Dunces isn't the most compelling read as far as plot development or symbolism. You're more likely to glean more meaning from Aesop's Fables, but it should be required reading to experience a unique voice and style, and just one more facet of American Literature. The story, so detailed throughout, ends abruptly, and this reader thinks the story would've continued on or spawned a sequel, had the author not tragically ended his own life. Which begs another question, of course...how much of John Kennedy Toole lives in Ignatius?
Guest More than 1 year ago
'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 Darlene 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
Guest More than 1 year ago
There are a handful of Southern classics, and CONFEDERACY belongs right in the middle of them. This rollicking tale of twisted humor, with its underlying sadness contains by far one of the most memorable characters ever written--that of Ignatius. The 'plot' of this book is too complicated to go into, and as with all great books, they refuse to be defined by genre or time. Such is the case with 'Dunces.' By all means, read this book, but buy yourself several copies as you'll continuously be lending one out to friends. Highly recommended
Guest More than 1 year ago
When someone asks me for my top five books, this is always number one. I've read it four times so far. A masterpiece.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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? When this combined with the earlier idea of the book paralleling with life, one sees that Toole is saying that these people, this society, maybe not in this extent, but still does actually exist. The Confederacy of Dunces captures vividly the society of 'queers', 'nerds', 'social-outcasts', and the 'sub-normal'. Then through the book he shows the readers the desperate reality that this is not 'sub-normal'. It is a depressing realization, but an important one. Knowing of a failure is the best way to start fixing what ever it is that is failing. If you feel in any way revolted by anything in this novel, understand that it is real, then think of how you can change things for the better.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Nowadays, not many books can keep a seventeen-year-old entertained.  A Confederacy of Dunces, a comic masterpiece written by John Kennedy Toole, is one of those books.  When my English teacher first assigned an independent reading assignment, I wasn&rsquo;t very excited.  I chose this book out of an assortment of many books because it was a comedy, and I figured it would be entertaining.  In retrospect, I am very glad and pleased I chose this novel. This hilarious novel follows a character named Ignatius J. Reilly.  Ignatius is an over-educated elephantine loner whose clothes, actions, body stature, and way of speaking do not fit into society, let alone New Orleans. Ignatius doesn&rsquo;t have a job and instead writes an unorganized book in his room and burdens his mother with taking care of him.  One day Ignatius is ordered by his mother to find a job and start making money.  Throughout the story Ignatius searches for jobs and finds a job at a company named Levy Pants and a job at a hot dog vending company.  Toole does a great job entertaining the reader with hilarious actions that Ignatius does, as well as side stories and characters.  Toole&rsquo;s descriptive writing allows you to picture the scene or character, making it really funny and even laugh out loud sometimes.  Whether it is the way someone talks or an action a character does, he always describes it all so you can picture it in your head. Not only is the story directly associated with Ignatius hilarious, but also many of the side stories and characters are even funnier!  Toole also has the side stories connect with Ignatius and all of the stories are tied up in the end.  These aspects of Toole&rsquo;s writing provides for a hilarious, original, and entertaining story.  This novel is an easy read and a great buy.  If it is an entertaining, funny, and original book you are looking for, A Confederacy of Dunces is a great choice.
The_hibernators More than 1 year ago
In Confederacy of Dunces, 30-year old Ignatius J. Reilly is put upon to exit the safety of his snug (though trashed) bedroom of his mother's home and find a job. The result is a cause-and-effect satire which is (apparently) a monument of American Literature. I didn't really like it. It simply wasn't my kind of book. Don't get me wrong, I got a few laughs.and I can understand how people with a certain sense of humor (those who love cause-and-effect satires like Seinfeld or those who like laughing at the inadequacies and hypocrisies of humanity) would really enjoy this book. It also has a little Freudian satire in it. I just found the characters really annoying (I know I was supposed to). Couldn't get into it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
While the premise is quite humerous, I tired of Ignatius pretty quickly. He is so unlikeable that, for me at least, the book became tiresome. He is such a ridiculous character, I had trouble taking him seriously or seeing the humor in his actions. Those observations don't necessarily make this a bad book, but I have trouble believing that there wasn't a better candidate for the Pulitzer Prize that year.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book with humor.
OurBookAddiction More than 1 year ago
Tsk tsk Ignatius! What a mess you were. I read this book based on a recommendation of a colleague and I wasn&rsquo;t disappointed. For the era this was written in I think it was outstanding satire. Actually for any generation it was amusing. In fact, one of my status updates was that if I were Ignatius&rsquo; mother, I think I&rsquo;d hang myself. You long to feel bad for her, but she enabled him to be the way he was. Let&rsquo;s slap them both! This was probably one of the most &ldquo;politically incorrect&rdquo; books I&rsquo;ve read in quite some time. But really, for the year which this was written, it was brave and unashamed. Ignatius doesn&rsquo;t even realize how racist and homophobic is his. Well to be honest, Ignatius has the complete and utter inability to see how he really is about anything which is what makes the book the masterpiece that it is. This novel has mixed reviews (don&rsquo;t they all?). For many books that are deemed literary classics, I think perhaps we need to be in a certain place in our life to appreciate them. For each of us this is different. I think if my daughter were to read this right now at her age (19) she&rsquo;d be furious by Ignatius and would be off on several rants against him while she read, or perhaps would be so mad at him she&rsquo;d throw the book aside. I have faith that one day, she will be able to read it and enjoy it for what it was &ndash; outstanding writing by a man whose life was too short.
Prince_willip More than 1 year ago
The author has really captured something here...the mayhem of human life at it's funniest.
JennieBee More than 1 year ago
I grew up in John Kennedy Toole's New Orleans. He brings back to life the D. H. Holmes clock, the bawdy and dirty French Quarter of days gone by, and the characters that have charmed the city for decades. Ignatius epitomizes the often greatly misunderstood characters that dwell in the city. And Toole conducts a great character study of the true 'characters' - Darlene the dancer, the city as seen through Jones's point of view, Mrs. Reilly and her wacky wardrobe, Ms. Trixie and her scraps, and of course the Myrna the minx upon whom Ignatius blames many of his troubles. The interlocking stories of the characters and the way they culiminate at the end makes this a work of pure genius - which makes it only more bittersweet that the author has so few works in his collection before his young death.
Susan61SB More than 1 year ago
This book was extremely amusing while, at the same time, it had an underlying sadness running through the story. Set in New Orleans, it described succinctly parishes of New Orleans in a way that allowed you to feel the pulse of the diverse population. The extremely well-drawn characters made you feel as if you had met this person at one time or another and the mother of Ignatius was one of those characters. Her friend was so direct and the nephew of the friend, Patrolman Mancuso, is quite convincing living his quiet life of desperation. The reader finds himself/herself looking forward to Patrolman Mancuso having some good fortune. As for Ignatius, the reader feels a mixture of pity, contempt and even more emotions that are hard to describe. It is somewhat difficult to be convinced that the ego of this man is large enough to dominate anyone and that his chicanery and browbeating of the average man was tolerated as long as it was. Fortunately, almost by accident, Mr. Levy eventually "got his number". What has poor misguided Myrna gotten herself into? This, dear reader, is up to you to determine. You will have had some good, hearty laughs and some very pleasurable and memorable hours of reading by the time you finish "A Confederacy of Dunces".
ThomProphet More than 1 year ago
Confederacy of Dunces is one of those hilarious books that does not so much concentrate on a clear and definite storyline but relies on its characters and environments to attract readers. Ignatius J. Reilly is an amazing and magnetizing character who the reader cannot help but wonder about. The rest of the characters are just as dynamic. Its setting in New Orleans only goes to make the book more grabbing. The book is an unbelievable analysis of human nature and can only make one wonder about how true the book may be in its observations of mankind.
Anonymous 7 days ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Toole was a genius. To bad he left us so early
downtownld More than 1 year ago
One of my all time favorite books.  Hilarious!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Hoops More than 1 year ago
This is one of my favorite books!  Toole's characterizations are rich, and the people that populate this book are as funny as you'll find.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
For the most part a great read, it drags a little here and there but what book doesn't? Read enjoy.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago