Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “A Confederacy of Dunces” as Want to Read:
A Confederacy of Dunces
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

A Confederacy of Dunces

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  256,686 ratings  ·  17,054 reviews
Una confabulació d’imbècils és l’obra mestra pòstuma de John Kennedy Toole, reconegut unànimement com un autor imprescindible en la tradició de Cervantes, Fielding, Swift, Rabelais i Dickens.

El protagonista d’aquesta novel·la és un dels personatges més memorables de la literatura nord-americana: l’Ignatius J. Reilly –un còctel d’Oliver Hardy delirant, Quixot adipós i Tomàs
Paperback, 394 pages
Published January 1994 by Grove Press
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about A Confederacy of Dunces, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
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.
Dolores Andral "Ooo-wee"and "whoa" got tiring really fast. But every character was painted with such broad-strokes buffoonery it's hard to just focus on that charact…more"Ooo-wee"and "whoa" got tiring really fast. But every character was painted with such broad-strokes buffoonery it's hard to just focus on that character. I mean, homosexuals must me writhing in their skin with the type of singular one-dimensional characterization Mr. Toole gave them.
But because everyone was equally stereotyped and lampooned it didn't come off as offensive.(less)
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee1984 by George OrwellThe Great Gatsby by F. Scott FitzgeraldHarry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. RowlingAnimal Farm by George Orwell
Best Books of the 20th Century
7,671 books — 50,295 voters
The Hunger Games by Suzanne CollinsHarry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. RowlingPride and Prejudice by Jane AustenTo Kill a Mockingbird by Harper LeeThe Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Best Books Ever
92,139 books — 227,642 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.88  · 
Rating details
 ·  256,686 ratings  ·  17,054 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of A Confederacy of Dunces
Sep 20, 2007 rated it it was ok
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
Feb 09, 2009 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
Jeffrey Keeten
Mar 18, 2011 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
Apr 05, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Mary Catherine
Dec 29, 2007 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
Sep 29, 2014 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
Paul Bryant
Sep 30, 2007 rated it did not like it
Shelves: novels
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
May 12, 2008 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
Ahmad Sharabiani
A Confederacy of Dunces, John Kennedy Toole

A Confederacy of Dunces is a picaresque novel by American novelist John Kennedy Toole which reached publication in 1980, eleven years after Toole's suicide.

Published through the efforts of writer Walker Percy (who also contributed a foreword) and Toole's mother, the book became first a cult classic, then a mainstream success; it earned Toole a posthumous Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1981, and is now considered a canonical work of modern literature of
Michael Finocchiaro
This was my second read of this unbelievable masterpiece from John Kennedy Toole who committed suicide 21 years before this book was rediscovered and published by his mother (he was thus the only person to receive a posthumous Pulitzer in 1981). Ignatius P Reilly is so incredibly unforgettable. I laughed from cover to cover. The parrot on his shoulder reminded me of the Mexico episode in Bellow's Augie March (which I also loved and reviewed here). There is never a dull moment here and the implic ...more
Aug 01, 2011 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
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
Side-Splittingly Funny Literary Novel: Ample Abderian Tomfoolery
The Big Easy's Mensa Motley Fool, its Baissière Barbare

oh boy oh boy oh boy...

When I first picked this up, it seemed too odd. Hell, the cover illustration shows this to be grotesque humour. I put it down not to pick back up for more than a year at which point I decided to read up to page 75.

What followed was not at all grotesque or surreal humor, but instead the funniest literary novel I've ever read. I LOVED IT. The 2016 Man Booke
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
Mar 24, 2007 rated it did not like it
Shelves: owned, fiction, abandoned
Ugh. Most overrated book ever. What a smug pile of overripe garbage.
Have I lost my sense of humour?

Everyone seems to love this piece of writing, and I was highly motivated when I saw the Jonathan Swift quote in the beginning, giving the novel its name:

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

However, all I could discover in the story were the dunces, engaged in never-ending dull dialogues, showing off their vulgarity and stupidity without an ounce of fun. Slapstick, not irony or
Ian "Marvin" Graye
Feb 24, 2011 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
Jul 30, 2007 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
Apr 08, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ha-ha-humour
The 1981 Pulitzer prize winner, a comedy/farce… not my type of humour, didn't make me laugh once. I found the humour juvenile. It was a recommendation of a good friend, but this book was really difficult to wade through, and I am personally shocked that this is loved by so many and seen as a modern classic! 2 out of 12, because of it status, otherwise I would have given it a 0 out of 12.

2010 read
Jul 30, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Glenn Russell
Jan 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

“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.”
― John Kennedy Toole, A Confederacy of Dunces

A laugh-out-loud picaresque, 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 wou
Joe S
Nov 26, 2007 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? ...more
A Confederacy of Dunces: John Kennedy Toole's Novel of What it Means to Miss New Orleans

A Confederacy of Dunces was chosen as the first group read of On the Southern Literary Trail in March, 2012. Now, a few months after "The Trail's" FIFTH Anniversary, the readers have chosen this novel as one of it's group reads for July, 2017. Come join us!

"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,
R.K. Gold
Jan 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I think I have a new favorite book. Certainly a book I will read again and one I didn’t want to put down my first go around. The story of Ignatius and his crusade against the world, making the long term lives of those he touched better off once they survived his initial destruction, was one non-stop laugh for me.

What made this book work so well was the lack of perfection. Though Ignatius was a total prick he was in a world of people just as bad (just better at hiding it) and though they all loat
J.L.   Sutton
Dec 09, 2021 rated it it was amazing
“...I mingle with my peers or no one, and since I have no peers, I mingle with no one.”

Huntington's A Confederacy of Dunces Stars Nick Offerman | BU Today | Boston University

From its crazy beginning and incredible cast of characters to an ending that is something like riding triumphantly off into the sunset, but clearly isn't, John Kennedy Toole's A Confederacy of Dunces is amazing! I've had this novel on my to-read pile for a long time, and am very happy to have finally read it. But even so, what exactly is it? A scathing indictment of society? A portrait of genius? Or is it simp
Jan 25, 2013 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
Jenna ❤ ❀  ❤
"Employers sense in me a denial of their values.... 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.”

I think it's safe to say that Ignatius J. Reilly is the most repugnant, belligerent, disgusting, and reprehensible protagonist of any book I've ever read.  There is not one redeeming quality about this oafish, belching, bellicose, self-aggrandizing character.  And yet he made me laugh
Nov 23, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
A Confederacy of Dunces

John Kennedy Toole--perhaps the least prolific of all The Greats--is a wonderful teacher of theatricality, of stage production. He would have been a perfect stage director for an ensemble cast. He is very much aware of the “actant” complexes referred to by narratoligist N. J. Lowe: subject/object, helper/opponent, and sender/ receiver complexes, which fill the narrative with much Oscar Wilde-like frivolity and wit. His poetics are quite attuned to the novel, seen as a Game
Jan 03, 2008 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
Nathan Marshall
Mar 17, 2008 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
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Catch-22
  • Butterfly in the Typewriter: The Short, Tragic Life of John Kennedy Toole and the Remarkable Story of A Confederacy of Dunces
  • Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
  • Breakfast of Champions
  • Cat's Cradle
  • Slaughterhouse-Five
  • On the Road
  • Naked
  • Blood Meridian, or the Evening Redness in the West
  • Infinite Jest
  • America (The Book): A Citizen's Guide to Democracy Inaction
  • Me Talk Pretty One Day
  • Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim
  • When You Are Engulfed in Flames
  • Wilt
  • The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay
  • White Noise
  • Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal
See similar books…
See top shelves…
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

Articles featuring this book

Some of the most beloved novels ever written marked the beginning and end of a literary career. Today we're rounding up the most popular of these...
137 likes · 143 comments
“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.” 516 likes
“Apparently I lack some particular perversion which today's employer is seeking. ” 272 likes
More quotes…