A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole

Posted: August 29, 2009 in Uncategorized
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This Pulitzer Prize winning novel is a riot. Unfortunately John Kennedy Toole did not live to see it published or receive the highest honor a writer can be awarded. A Confederacy of Dunces is a mixture of high and low comedy mostly from the viewpoint of a very troubled man in his late twenties (or maybe early thirties). Dunces takes place in New Orleans, both on Bourbon Street and in the residential areas. The protagonist, Ignatius, is an overweight PhD graduate (and virgin) who has no desire to work a real job, has a gastrointestinal valve problem, likes to write,  and has a very peculiar pessimistic world view. Nothing is ever good enough for Ignatius.

Toole is a master of finding and maintaining character voice. He digs into the mind and heart of Ignatius and never misses a beat. The story itself is a selection of adventures and mishaps, but there is a sense that Dunces only gives us a sliver of Ignatius’ life. The novel lacks character growth, there is no epiphany, it begins and ends and the reader is left assured that Ignatius misadventures are far from over. Normally when I read a novel I want some sort of conclusion, I want to see the character experience a change, but Dunces was written so perfectly that I find the ending to be more than satisfactory.

Wikipedia on John Kennedy Toole: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Kennedy_Toole

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Comments
  1. Nice post! Of course, the saga of bringing this novel to print–along with Toole’s life is most interesting. I hope you will take a look: http://www.corymaclauchlin.com

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