Ignatius Rising: The Life of John Kennedy Toole by Rene Pol Nevils, Paperback | Barnes & Noble
Ignatius Rising: The Life of John Kennedy Toole

Ignatius Rising: The Life of John Kennedy Toole

by Rene Pol Nevils, Deborah George Hardy
     
 

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The phenomenal success of John Kennedy Toole's comic masterpiece, A Confederacy of Dunces, is now legendary, a story that has long beckoned a deeper exploration into the life, imagination, and demise of the writer responsible for one of American literature's most memorable characters — Ignatius J. Reilly. In Ignatius Rising, René Pol Nevils and Deborah

Overview

The phenomenal success of John Kennedy Toole's comic masterpiece, A Confederacy of Dunces, is now legendary, a story that has long beckoned a deeper exploration into the life, imagination, and demise of the writer responsible for one of American literature's most memorable characters — Ignatius J. Reilly. In Ignatius Rising, René Pol Nevils and Deborah George Hardy present the first biography of Toole, drawing upon scores of interviews with contemporaries of the writer and acquaintances of his influencing mother, Thelma, as well as unpublished letters, documents, and photographs. Frank yet sympathetic, Ignatius Rising deftly describes a life that is dark, tragic, bizarre, and amazing — but luminous with the gift of laughter, a life not unlike those of Toole's beloved characters, now loved the world over.

Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
An oddly entertaining biography of a tormented writer and his unlikely legacy. John Kennedy Toole's story has become the stuff of publishing legend: Boy wonder writes a dense, picaresque novel called A Confederacy of Dunces (a "rambling story about an obese, flatulent man"); no one wants to publish same; despondent boy wonder commits suicide; boy wonder's mother recruits famous writer to find a publisher for the manuscript; the novel is published and becomes a bestseller. As Nevils and Hardy—former writing students of NPR commentator Andrei Codrescu at Louisiana State University—demonstrate, the truth of the story is considerably more complex. Born in 1936, Toole grew up to be a complex, self-hating man—but one whose talents were clearly appreciated. Far from being shunned as a provincial nobody by the powers that be in New York publishing, as the Toole myth would have it, the author of Confederacy was taken seriously at many houses (including Simon & Schuster, whose chief editor Robert Gottlieb devoted considerable time to suggesting ways in which the ungainly novel could be trimmed and focused). Too close to the work at that point, Toole was psychically unprepared to undertake revisions. His suicide, however, was not the response to rejection that his mother claimed it to have been; it was instead an escape from a long and gruesome slide into madness. A minor author by any measure, Toole would not merit a book-length study were it not for his whirlwind of a mother, who pressed the manuscript on novelist Walker Percy and hounded him until he arranged for its publication. Thelma Ducoing Toole emerges as a self-absorbed harridan of the first order in this account,conniving and utterly awful, whom everyone connected with Toole's posthumous good fortune took pains to avoid—but who made that good fortune possible through her unwavering belief in her son's brilliance. Unpleasant and demanding, she—and not her unlucky son—is the real hero of this engagingly told footnote to American literary history.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780807130599
Publisher:
Louisiana State University Press
Publication date:
04/01/2005
Pages:
272
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x (d)

Meet the Author

René Pol Nevils lives in Baton Rouge with her husband, Rick.

Deborah George Hardy is a member of the Paris Poetry Workshops and founding director of Littlestarfriends.com. She lives in Pasadena, California.

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