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A Confederacy of Dunces

3.88  ·  Rating Details  ·  165,294 Ratings  ·  10,699 Reviews
Alternate cover for this ISBN can be found here

"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
Paperback, 416 pages
Published January 1994 by Grove Press (first published 1980)
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Newly Wardell This book is so vivid that you can practically smell New Orleans. Toole's Ignatius is intellectualism gone wrong. When I pontificate about the virtue…moreThis book is so vivid that you can practically smell New Orleans. Toole's Ignatius is intellectualism gone wrong. When I pontificate about the virtue of science fiction or feverishly debate the merits of one quarterback over another during fantasy football season, I see Ignatius in me. It is usually at this time that I step off the soapbox.
Lee Dunning Considering that pretty much every character in the story is an outlandish, cartoonish stereotype, I'm not sure singling out that particular character…moreConsidering that pretty much every character in the story is an outlandish, cartoonish stereotype, I'm not sure singling out that particular character is fruitful.(less)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jun 26, 2012 Megha rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviews

One fine morning Fortuna spun my wheel of luck and put me on a flight to NYC. The person who was sitting next to me, refusing to indulge in modern day perversities like movies, pulled out his book and sat down reading. He must have been enjoying it immensely, because he kept laughing out loud every now and then. Soon he realized that some people had started turning around to give him weird looks. Poor guy didn't have an option but to put the book down. But Fortuna being the degenerate wanton tha
Sep 20, 2007 Nathan rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: People who think unreasonable whining is funny.
I know I'm out on my own on this one, but I detest this book. I really think it glorifies whining to an extent never before seen in the human condition. Everyone I know loves this book, and I know I am in a minority here. But Christ... That this book is so popular with people in my age bracket and not so popular with people older or younger really makes me wonder if it is part of the problem or a reflection of the boring, whiny apathy of my generation. But if this book has any redeemable aspects ...more
Apr 06, 2007 sarah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Best friends, cool uncles
There are a lot of ways to judge people, but I find that opinion of this book is one of the most accurate and efficient. With very few exceptions, I've found that how much I like someone is strongly correlated with how much they enjoy the book. Is it their favorite book ever, omg? Well, they're probably either a best friend, a comrade whom I hold in worship-approximating esteem, or my cool cousin or uncle or something like that. Do they not "get" it or find it boring? You aren't my type, sorry. ...more
Jeffrey Keeten
Jun 03, 2015 Jeffrey Keeten rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: southern
Read for the group On the Southern Literary Trail

Oh man ughh ooohhhhh.

Oh thank goodness my pyloric valve finally opened. I didn't know I even had a pyloric valve until I met Ignatius J. Reilly. I had no idea that little valve could be so pesky. I can only hope it stays open long enough for me to write this review.

When a true genius appears, you can know him by this sign: that all the dunces are in a confederacy against him.
Jonathan Swift

Ignatius is
May 17, 2008 Michelle rated it it was ok
I thought the book was ok. One of my old boyfriends recommended it to me, and while I was reading it I told him what an asshole I thought Ignatius J. Reilly was, and that I was sick of hearing about his valve. He got pissed off at me and told me that I didn't get it. He said Ignatius was a misunderstood genius stuck in a shitty town with no one who understood him. To be honest, my eyes kind of glazed over and I don't remember the rest of his rant, but I finished the book anyway. I think the most ...more
Mary Catherine
Dec 29, 2007 Mary Catherine rated it did not like it
I hated this book. I almost gave up after the first 20 pages, but I decided to stick with it and give it a chance. Wrong. My first instinct was correct!

The only thing that might have saved this for me was if the main character Ignatius faced a long, slow, painful death. There was absolutely nothing about him that I found redeeming or appealing. Has there ever been a more annoying, obnoxious character in literature? If so, I don't want to know.

I had heard that this was supposed to be an hilariou
Dear Reader,

Fortuna evidently was smiling upon my being when I endeavored to undertake the consumption of this philosophical masterpiece. How amusing to stumble upon a comic homage to Boethius's Consolation of Philosophy, an homage that not only mirrors its source of inspiration in both content and structure, but moreover employs said source as a plot device of the most humorous kind. Certainly it was no mere accident; indeed it must have been a result of afflatus imparted by the goddess herself
Paul Bryant
Jan 05, 2013 Paul Bryant rated it did not like it
Authors who commit suicide find their Lovelybones-eye view from the afterlife brings them no comfort:

David Foster Wallace : Oh my God - look at that dreadful biography of me... and it's selling too... it's like they're murdering me all over again ... oh if I could only commit suicide all over again - but up here, you can't!

John Kennedy Toole : Oh shut up you preening self-regarding self-annotating depressing pedant, what about ME?? My God, if I'd only persevered for another year or so, I'd have
ETA: I recently came across a physical copy of this at my favorite used-book store. The eagerness with which I grabbed said copy--and the disappointment I felt in its previous owner for the lack of annotation I found in its pages--suggests that I liked this book far more than I hated its main character. Also, I am gleefully drunk at this particular moment so please forgive me for any logical or grammatical inconsistencies currently present in this preface. I might get around to fixing them once ...more
Ian GalaDali
Feb 10, 2012 Ian GalaDali rated it really liked it
A Whiff and a Sniff and I'm Off

Well, I finished and I'm glad I persisted.
You know how dogs sometimes sniff each other for ages before deciding to hump?
I was like that for a few years before I read the book, but more importantly I sniffed around ineffectually for the first 100 pages and could easily have blamed the book for my lack of engagement.
I read the last 300 pages in a couple of sittings.
I had to get on a roll.
But once you commit, the book pulls you, rather than you having to push the book
Mar 31, 2016 Gregory rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: my enemies if I had any.
This so-called "farce" and "classic" was more frustrating to me than entertaining. I dislike leaving a book unfinished and the only reason I continued to read it was the hope that my effort would be paid off in the end. Alas, no such reward awaited me. This further cemented my belief that the only reason classics are called so is because some committee agreed and the public thought the committee must be right. I'm afraid my lingering disillusion with this book prevents my ability to form any mor ...more
May 07, 2007 Conrad rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandoned, owned, fiction
Ugh. Most overrated book ever. What a smug pile of overripe garbage.
Joe S
Nov 28, 2007 Joe S rated it did not like it
Shelves: novels
What a colossal waste of my life. Nothing happens. Literally. That's what's wrong with this book. It's a freshman-level fiction workshop gone horribly awry. And it won what?
Jan 30, 2013 Szplug rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The story of Toole, and the novel by which he apparently vented the demons that lurked within his existentially unhale self, is a sad one, and that foreknowledge endows A Confederacy of Dunces with a patina of melancholy before the first page is turned; a lacquer directly at odds with the immensely high expectations and consequent eagerness I brought into its reading due to the superlatives I had discovered ere I opted to take the plunge: most prevalent, its status as being rife with hilarity an ...more
Nathan Marshall
Apr 01, 2008 Nathan Marshall rated it it was amazing
A weird and wonderful book. Truly, I've never read anything like it. This novel has some of the crispest, most well-painted characters I've ever read, and although I wasn't "laughing out loud" as much as the reviewers on the back cover promised, it is definitely funny as hell, and a completely cringe-worthy story. The character of Ignatius Reilly will haunt me. We all know people like this -- the over-educated, miserable, socially dysfunctional outcast who is so cut off from the world that he ma ...more
Apr 26, 2016 Matt rated it it was ok
Shelves: classic-novels
This is the book that almost broke my book club.

John Kennedy Toole’s A Confederacy of Dunces is as famous for its back-story as it is for its content. It was published posthumously in 1980, over a decade after Toole ended his own life by carbon monoxide poisoning. Despite having been earlier rejected by publishers, the book went on to win the Pulitzer Prize.

A Confederacy of Dunces is a rambling, aimless, comedic novel centered on Ignatius J. Reilly, a buffoonish overweight man-child with poor
Aug 10, 2007 Steve rated it it was ok
Am I being unduly harsh giving this a mere “It’s OK”? Maybe. To hear some people describe it (even people I usually correlate well with), this book is a laugh-scream riot. Hopes grow even higher when you hear the story about Toole’s mother who, after his suicide, finally gets the thing published, then sits back to watch the prizes pour in. What I viewed as a miss may have been because the bar was so high. It could be, too, that I’m just not predisposed to dysfunctional characters, all bloated wi ...more
May 27, 2012 RandomAnthony rated it it was amazing
How much do I love A Confederacy of Dunces? This much.


I've read the novel at least ten times and this edition (which a friend rightfully noted displays an uglyass cover) became my glove compartment book through a few years of waiting-in-the-carpool-lane-after-school stretches. I re-read the novel late this past May and it still holds up. Genius structure, brilliant dialogue, dark as hell, and funny over and over. Mr. Toole,I don't know what demons haunted you, but when you exhaled this novel yo
Mar 16, 2012 Lawyer rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone
Recommended to Lawyer by: New York Times Book Review
A Confederacy of Dunces: John Kennedy Toole's Novel of What it Means to Miss New Orleans

Miniver cursed the commonplace
And eyed a khaki suit with loathing;
He missed the mediæval grace
Of iron clothing.

Miniver scorned the gold he sought,
But sore annoyed was he without it;
Miniver thought, and thought, and thought,
And thought about it.

Miniver Cheevy, born too late,
Scratched his head and kept on thinking;
Miniver coughed, and called it fate,
And kept on drinking.--Edward Arlington Robinson

After tw
Jun 20, 2008 Laura rated it it was amazing
Shelves: american-lit
Easily the funniest book I’ve ever read. A masterful fugue of high and low comedy, the novel traces the exploits of Ignatius J. Reilly, thwarted author, philosopher, and medievalist, as he is tragically forced to divert energy from the writing of his magnum opus — a comparative history that will astonish a benighted world — in order to get a job. Interlaced through Ignatius’s epic employment journey (including stints as a hot dog vendor and filing clerk) is a cast of New Orleans eccentrics teete ...more
May 09, 2007 ally rated it did not like it
i think i'm one of the few people in this world who didn't like this book. i really tried to read it, my dad and sister just raved about it - but i found myself bored and annoyed. it's one thing to not like characters b/c the author wrote them so brilliantly you actually have an emotional response to them, whether it be positive or negative, but with this book, i was just bored and didn't care about the characters. It was actually painful to read past one point. I absolutely could not read past ...more
Mar 19, 2012 Terry rated it did not like it
Ok, I was almost able to push myself to the 50% point and I just can’t go any further. I have too many other books to read to spend any more time on this one. I’m sorry…I know, it’s apparently a classic, but for the life of me, aside from the tragic circumstances around its publication, I can’t for the life of me see why.

Ignatius Reilly is an asshole, by design I know, but even the humour he supposedly spouts is little more than chuckle-inducing for me. I don’t even believe that Ignatius is much
Aug 24, 2015 Lyn rated it really liked it
Confederacy of Dunces is a masterpiece of satire and irony, a worthy recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for best novel. It is funny, sometimes uproariously so, and I smiled and chuckled throughout. Toole’s depression and loss was not just of himself and his family, but also of us all, a genius who can create this comedic virtuosity might have written a folio of great work, and perhaps Confederacy was not even his greatest. Or perhaps, the spark that drove him to so bitingly observe our culture and ...more
Barry Pierce
Ignatius J. Reilly. Oh my sweet motherfuck. I think I have a new favourite character in literature.

I don't know why I was so reluctant to pick this up. It was on my TBR for far too long, god I've been missing out on so much by not reading this novel. This is a brilliant book. Ugh god I loved it so much that I'm actually finding it hard to write anything coherent because all I can think of is superlatives and hyperbole. Eh, superlatives and hyperboles never hurt anyone. This is amazing and you s
Jan 15, 2008 Patrick rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: the pretentious and unpretentious alike
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 10, 2009 Kemper rated it really liked it
Shelves: humor, classic-lit
Two word review: Funny classic.

Unexpected side effect during or after reading: Extreme cravings for hot dogs.

New thing I learned from reading this book: The sad story of John Kennedy Toole.

General observations: This is a weird book for me because it's one of those ones I'd heard of for years without really knowing anything about it other than the title. I decided to check it out after seeing it on various lists here, and I read the story of how the book came to be published after Toole's death.
Apr 02, 2016 Richard rated it really liked it
Recommended to Richard by: Lawyer
I read this for a group-read in the discussion group On the Southern Literary Trail. Thanks to founder, moderator and friend Mike Sullivan for helping me obtain a copy.

This follows the misadventures of Ignatius J. Reilly, a wanna-be writer who is a legend in his own mind, even though to the rest of the world he is a freak. An intelligent but lazy and self-absorbed man, he goes through one lousy job after another, harassed by his exasperated mother and harassing her in turn. He impresses, intimi
Brandon the Gentleman
Aug 21, 2007 Brandon the Gentleman rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: someone I disliked
After hearing dozens of great things about 'A Confederacy of Dunces,' I figured I had to read it. And upon my third attempt at reading it, I did finish it. And I realized that I did not like it at all. There are a handful of humorous pages, but you have to suffer through 70 pages of tripe per one page of decency. Don't let the Pulitzer fool you. The only reason this novel was published was because the author killed himself because he couldn't publish it, and then his mother repeatedly sent it to ...more
Glenn Russell
Jan 15, 2014 Glenn Russell rated it it was amazing
This is a laugh-out-loud picaresque novel, a story chock-full of satire and unforgettable humorous detail as we follow the adventures of our larger-than-life rascal-hero, Ignatius J. Reilly, floundering and farting his way through New Orleans in the 1960s.

If you think of a novel-length R. Crumb cartoon you would not be far off. Some of the characters we meet: the manager of hot dog carts that sticks a long fork to the thick neck of Ignatius, the owner of a pants factory who constantly has to do
Nathan "N.R." Gaddis
Jul 19, 2014 Nathan "N.R." Gaddis marked it as partial-credit
Laid aside at page 228 because I have not more present need for highly distracted reading. Should you ask, highly distracted reading is the reading you do when you know that your mind will not be sticking to the page and you can afford those passages when the eye=brain duo do very little more than scan the words on the page. Highly distracted reading demands that one not read books in which one has already made massive quantities of fore-investments. If I recall correctly, the last time I requir ...more
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John Kennedy Toole was an American novelist from New Orleans, Louisiana, best known for his novel A Confederacy of Dunces.

Toole's novels remained unpublished during his lifetime. Some years after his death by suicide, Toole's mother brought the manuscript of A Confederacy of Dunces to the attention of the novelist Walker Percy, who ushered the book into print. In 1981 Toole was posthumously awarde
More about John Kennedy Toole...

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“I am at the moment writing a lengthy indictment against our century. When my brain begins to reel from my literary labors, I make an occasional cheese dip.” 394 likes
“Apparently I lack some particular perversion which today's employer is seeking. ” 165 likes
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