A Confederacy of Dunces
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A Confederacy of Dunces

3.87 of 5 stars 3.87  ·  rating details  ·  132,369 ratings  ·  9,163 reviews
A Confederacy of Dunces is an American comic masterpiece. John Kennedy Toole's hero is one Ignatius J. Reilly, "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 comi...more
Paperback, 394 pages
Published January 21st 1994 by Grove Press (first published May 1st 1980)
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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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Megha

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...more
Nathan
Sep 20, 2007 Nathan rated it 2 of 5 stars
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
sarah
Apr 06, 2007 sarah rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  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
Michelle
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
Jeffrey Keeten
Read for the group On the Southern Literary Trail

Bounce
BOUnce
BOUNCE
Oh man ughh ooohhhhh.
BOUNCE!
BOUNCE!!
ahhhhhhhhhhhhh

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...more
Mary Catherine
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...more
Sarah Null
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...more
Madeleine
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 Paganus
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...more
Paul
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...more
Gregory
Jul 30, 2007 Gregory rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  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 get 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 mo...more
Conrad
Ugh. Most overrated book ever. What a smug pile of overripe garbage.
Szplug
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
Joe S
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?
Nathan Marshall
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
Mike
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...more
Steve
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
RandomAnthony
How much do I love A Confederacy of Dunces? This much.

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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...more
Patrick
Jan 15, 2008 Patrick rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: the pretentious and unpretentious alike
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
ally
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
Laura
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
Terry
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...more
Richard
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...more
Brandon the Gentleman
Aug 21, 2007 Brandon the Gentleman rated it 1 of 5 stars
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
Cheryl
Hey, do YOU have a life-size statue of your authentic self, warts and all, in your hometown's center court? Has your quick wit entertained readers for over thirty years winning you the top prize in literature? Are your written words frequently quoted; you know, inside jokes among friends who observe the world through existential lenses and misogynistic views? Do you place your life in the hands of Fortuna, believe Boethius' philosopical premise, and live with your mother?

Well, neither do I, but...more
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
Mary Kate
May 15, 2008 Mary Kate rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone with a sense of humor
Recommended to Mary by: BARWICK
A Confederacy of Dunces is a great comedic book with tremendous amount of detail that makes the reader feel as if they are actually set in the 1950s and standing on Canal Street, at the heart of New Orleans. John Kennedy Toole creates a believable scene, with landmarks such as Bay St. Louis, St. Louis Cathedral and real streets such as Canal St. and St. Charles Ave. These landmarks create a sense of comfort for readers who are familiar of the region. Toole was inspired by his own life while writ...more
Lisa Findley
There is no denying that this book is funny. It's funny in a dated, written-in-the-60s-in-the-South way, but still just classic comic set-ups and timing -- it all ties together perfectly, and I really appreciate that. I guess my main problem with the book is I didn't find it to be anything other than hilariously funny and mildly offensive (women are drunks or nags or both! women activists are fools!). Everything I hear about this book is how funny but deeply sad and moving it is. No.

Ignatius Rei...more
Kemper
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....more
Joan
Many claim it is the most valid depiction of New Orleanians ever. My favorite quote comes from Ignatius's extremely short tenure as a college teacher: "I could never have possibly read over the illiteracies and misconceptions burbling from the dark minds of those students. It will be the same wherever I work."
This from a professor who did not need to read the papers to know the most appropriate usage of them was to dump them "out of the window and right onto the students' heads." As Ignatius sa...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
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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.” 308 likes
“...I doubt very seriously whether anyone will hire me.'

What do you mean, babe? You a fine boy with a good education.'

Employers sense in me a denial of their values.' He rolled over onto his back. 'They fear me. I suspect that they can see that I am forced to function in a century I loathe. This was true even when I worked for the New Orleans Public Library.”
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