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A Confederacy of Dunces (Penguin Modern Classics) Paperback – 30 Mar 2000

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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; New Ed edition (30 Mar. 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141182865
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141182865
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.5 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (191 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 9,134 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

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, --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"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

4.2 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

37 of 38 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 23 Jan. 2002
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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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By on 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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40 of 42 people found the following review helpful By jacr100 VINE VOICE on 15 April 2004
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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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Jason Greensides on 10 Jun. 2009
Format: Paperback
It's true, many of the reviews on amazon are rated too highly, like anything we've come to like for whatever reason is by default given 5 stars. From a technical standpoint this novel deserves 4 stars, but the reason I have to give it 5 is because ever since I first read it about 10 years ago, when I go into bookshops now with the intent of finding a book that will make me laugh, I walk in with my shoulders slumped and my feet scuffling along the foor in full knowledge that I'll never find anything as funny as The Confederacy of Dunces.

Ok, some people will not find it funny no matter how hard they try - I mean, I just don't get how something like the comedy show, Little Britian, could ever become so popular. But I do think the majority of readers out there who want more than the latest Ben Elton novel or have already read Catch 22, won't just laugh at the way Ignatius J Reilly sees and interacts with the world, but will laugh so hard that you'll have to keep closing the book for a few seconds just to gain back your senses.

I've lent out and given away a lot of books to friends over the years, but none have done the rounds as much as this one.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Garth Algar on 28 July 2009
Format: Paperback
Ignatius J Reilly is an absolute gem of a character. A massively obese, over-educated, un-sexed, medievalist agoraphobic (yes, really) who lives with his poor doting mother and despises everything about the decadence and debauchery of the 20th century. He bulldozes his way through life in a colourfully depicted 1960s New Orleans, causing untold misery and misfortune to anyone who crosses his path or, heaven forbid, misguidedly offers him employment.

Swimming around this whale of a protagonist are a huge variety of secondary characters, and maybe there are a few too many. While some are excellent, like Ignatius's mother Irene, a woman on the verge of a nervous breakdown who is torn between the demands of her ungrateful son and the entreaties of her new friends who want her to get out and enjoy life, others are farcical to the point of being annoying. Mrs Levy, for example, is the wife of a rich factory owner who is so appalling that the character just ceases to be believable. There's also a long and colourful list of larger than life French Quarter personalities that are characterised with varying degrees of success.

With such a myriad cast, you feel that sometimes storylines have to be bent to crowbar characters into the plot and, again, it can descend into farce and become unnecessarily unrealistic. If you wanted to hide an illegal package, would you really stash it in the bun compartment of a total stranger's hot dog cart? This kind of thing can be a bit irritating. What is gripping, however, is the central thread of Ignatius, his mother and their immediate circle. Irene's friendships and love interests are genuinely touching, while Ignatius's irate correspondence with the "musty minx" a sex crazed anarchist from New York are hilarious in their eloquence and venom.
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