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A Confederacy of Dunces (Essential Penguin) [Paperback]

John Kennedy Toole
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (157 customer reviews)

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Book Description

25 Feb 1999 Essential Penguin

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

A monument to sloth, rant and contempt, a behemoth of fat, flatulence and furious suspicion of anything modern - this is Ignatius J. Reilly of New Orleans, noble crusader against a world of dunces.

In magnificent revolt against the twentieth century, Ignatius propels his monstrous bulk amonst the flesh-pots of a fallen city, documenting life on his Big Cief tablets as he goes - until his maroon-haired mother decress that he must work ...



Product details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin; New Ed edition (25 Feb 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140282688
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140282689
  • Product Dimensions: 11.1 x 2.6 x 18.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (157 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 338,661 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon Review

It's been hailed as a masterpiece and reviled as trash, but A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole has never been lightly dismissed. By creating Ignatius J. Reilly, a bigger-than-life bag of wind stuffed with some of the most comically outrageous and disturbingly insightful opinions ever put to paper, Toole made an indelible mark on the landscape of American literature--a feat recognized with the posthumous publication of this novel, followed by a Pulitzer Prize. Forced to wade the lower depths of New Orleans society, the gargantuan Ignatius, his poor mother in tow, takes us on a tour de force through the back alleys and juke joints of the French Quarter of New Orleans as he implores the gods, railing against the hypocrisy of contemporary politics and the crushing weight of late capitalism. "The luminous years ... dimmed into dross; Fortuna's wheel had turned ... Having once been so high, humanity fell so low. What had once been dedicated to the soul was now dedicated to the sale." Toole's suicide at 32 silenced a uniquely promising literary voice, denying his critics and fans the opportunity to determine whether his talent was a flash in the pan or a first spark of genius. Read A Confederacy of Dunces and you'll no doubt have formed your own inflexible opinion, which you'll defend tenaciously against all reason. --George Laney, Amazon.com --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"What a delight, what a roaring, rollicking, footstomping wonder this book is. I laughed until my sides ached, and then I laughed on."

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
35 of 36 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
In 'A Confederacy..' Toole created a masterpiece of contemporary writing.Set in the the tense air of 60's New Orleans ,the storyline weaves to and fro among Toole's motley cru cast of pornographers, bureacrats and "communiss" with a cold,honest yet human eye."A Confederacy Of Dunces" stole my undivided attention for all 400 pages;I could'nt stop from giggling at the unfathomable situations in which Ignatius J. Reilly found himself and yet I sighed with delight on reading the climax, one which does total justice to the excellence of the novel.But the book's greatest achievement is Reilly himself.A marvellous orator with a repulsive appearance, a slob and a shameless social critic, Reilly's presence in the novel is simply immense, literally and metaphorically. He shall go down as one of the great characters of 20th century literature."A Confederacy Of Dunces" stands tall above all the rest.
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34 of 36 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Literary Equivalent of Marmite 15 April 2004
By jacr100 VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback
If anyone is confused by that title, I’d better explain: I’ve been pondering why the majority of previous reviewers have either loved or hated this book. I think one reason is that you have to really engage with the character of Ignatius J. Reilly in order to expose the funny side of the novel. Admittedly his lofty sense of self-importance and heedless misanthropy won’t make this easy, not forgetting his predilection for hot dogs, burping, etc; but if you bear with him, the scorn he pours forth on virtually everyone he comes into contact with does start to make you chuckle, particularly since his anachronistic language and imaginative insults sound positively alien amidst the casual slang of his New Orleans acquaintances.
There are some genuinely funny moments, and the storyline is structured along the lines of classical farce drama, with the unfortunate Ignatius spiralling downwards into an ever more precarious position, both socially and financially. Not that he cares, mind you – he has only entered the world of work temporarily and under coercive pressure from his mother, biding his time until his great social commentary modelled on the philosophy of Boethius propels him to prominence. I agree with one other reviewer that it is this latter project that makes the book a little turgid at times, when Ignatius casts down pages of vitriolic invective in his diary. These sections aren’t boring, but neither are they that funny, and the reader might be forgiven for skipping them to get back to Ignatius loudly criticising the latest film, or condescendingly mocking whomever he encounters that day.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An absolute ripper... 11 Aug 2000
Format:Hardcover
One of the most humorous books you will ever read - spent all day at work wanting to get back to the book. Characters sublime, setting brilliant and the plot rolls along like a bus driving through a cardboard box factory.
Look out for Jones - Ooooeee, he ain't no vagran cawmniss. Just buy it, you won't go wrong.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars perspiring 7 Dec 2001
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Ignatius Reilly is a character never before encountered in literature. The abonamal giant disgusts, humours and challenges the reader at every turn.His repulsion of modern society is frightfully understandable and I was horrified to find myself agreeing with him on many points. Reilly is support by a fantastic medley of well drawn out, scene stealing characters of 1960's New Orleans. John Kennedy Toole has produced with out a doubt, in my mind, one of the finest books ever written. How I wish I could be there in New Orleans and witness the carnage Ignatius leaves in his wake at first hand.
Disturbingly insightful, frantically funny and easily believable. Confederancy of Dunces deserves far more prominent place at the grand table of literature. Igantius Reilly is the ultimate anti hero. Loved it.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply Brilliant 18 July 1999
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
This is one of the funniest novels I have ever read. In my opinion it ranks alongside Catch-22, Breakfast of Champions and A Frolic of His Own in terms of both laughs and the sheer class of its writing. Ignatius J. Reilly is of course a mammoth fictional character, in every sense of the word, but he is only part of a brilliantly etched cast, whose words and actions spring forth from the page. In terms of sheer destructive farce only Don Quixote comes close (but even that classic doesn't feature it's hero selling unhygienic hot-dogs in a ridiculous pirate costume; attracting tourists and homosexual admirers). For years this brilliant book remained unpublished and ignored by that ever-so-sharp rabble that we call agents and publishing houses (yes, the same ones who ignored Catch-22 for over 2 years). Due in part to this ignorance the author committed suicide. And it is this tragedy that, in part, colours Reilly's adventures with a certain sense of sadness. Along with the realization that, as you laugh at this book, the author would never write another. However, before things get too maudlin, let me just say this: buy it, read it, love it.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent 26 Mar 2001
Format:Paperback
John Kennedy Toole created a masterpiece with Confederacy of Dunces and indeed a master, of sorts, in Ignatius J.Reilly. It is indeed a pity that we cannot indulge in more of his books.
Ignatius is a unique hero. He is overweight, superbly rude and self involved and treats his mother despicably - however, I still found myself liking this uncouth character. His high intelligence and fluent eloquence create an amusing sharp wit that everyone wishes for and few people possess. Not only did I find the character rather 'charming' (in his own absurd and bizarre way) I found myself wishing he could emerge real and thus I could 'meet him'.
Ah, truly a book to recommend. Surpasses most, and makes reading a true pleasure!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars This book is a bit of a disappointment given all the hype that...
This book is a bit of a disappointment given all the hype that surrounds it. I guess it was a book of its time and I think I would have enjoyed it more back in the day. Read more
Published 23 hours ago by TenTrees
1.0 out of 5 stars Uninteresting book not worth reading.
I read this book after I found it in a list of the funniest books ever written, but I have no idea why people like it at all; it not only isn't funny, it isn't even remotely... Read more
Published 18 days ago by eno
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding Wit
My pal recommended this to me and I am so glad Amazon was able to provide it.
This is laugh outloud absurdity and it reminds me of a time and a place familiar to me and yet I... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Comrade X
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant!
Together with The Hundred Year Old Man ... this has to be one of the funniest books I've ever read. One of those 'laugh out loud' books that you can't put down. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Alison Cochrane
2.0 out of 5 stars Bludgeoned
This is one of those great American novels I've known the title of for 20+ years, but never known anything about other than it won the Pulitzer, and some people love it, and it's... Read more
Published 3 months ago by A. Ross
5.0 out of 5 stars Vibrant read!
If you enjoy characters who come alive on the page, you'll love this! and you'll remember them long after you've finished the book.
Published 3 months ago by cymraes
1.0 out of 5 stars American Humour
Can't stand the book. Who is really interested in a farting, belching, only interested in his "valve", fat slob of a man? Read more
Published 3 months ago by Marianna Lutyens
4.0 out of 5 stars Stand out original
Ignitions J Reilly is one of the most appalling, outrageous and funny characters I have ever read. I really didn't know what to expect when I picked this book up but once I did, I... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Mel Powell
5.0 out of 5 stars Keep re-reading
For some reason this book hits a chord with me. I have the paperback edition but needed a kindle. Having lived with someone on the edge of functioning normally it is absolutely... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Alison Stewart
5.0 out of 5 stars For the job seeking graduate
Guaranteed to make you laugh - an easy read and worth the purchase.
Can't really compare it to any other book.
Published 4 months ago by GeomorphologyRocks!
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