BKMT READING GUIDES



 
Fun,
Confusing,
Adventurous

9 reviews

A Confederacy of Dunces (Evergreen Book)
by John Kennedy Toole

Published: 1987
Paperback : 405 pages
12 members reading this now
53 clubs reading this now
11 members have read this book
Recommended to book clubs by 3 of 9 members
A Confederacy of Dunces is an American comic masterpiece. John Kennedy Toole's hero, one Ignatius J. Reilly, is "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' ...
No other editions available.
Add to Club Selections
Add to Possible Club Selections
Add to My Personal Queue
Jump to

Introduction

A Confederacy of Dunces is an American comic masterpiece. John Kennedy Toole's hero, one Ignatius J. Reilly, is "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 comic adventures" (Henry Kisor, Chicago Sun-Times).

Editorial Review

"A green hunting cap squeezed the top of the fleshy balloon of a head. The green earflaps, full of large ears and uncut hair and the fine bristles that grew in the ears themselves, stuck out on either side like turn signals indicating two directions at once. Full, pursed lips protruded beneath the bushy black moustache and, at their corners, sank into little folds filled with disapproval and potato chip crumbs."

Meet Ignatius J. Reilly, the hero of John Kennedy Toole's tragicomic tale, A Confederacy of Dunces. This 30-year-old medievalist lives at home with his mother in New Orleans, pens his magnum opus on Big Chief writing pads he keeps hidden under his bed, and relays to anyone who will listen the traumatic experience he once had on a Greyhound Scenicruiser bound for Baton Rouge. ("Speeding along in that bus was like hurtling into the abyss.") But Ignatius's quiet life of tyrannizing his mother and writing his endless comparative history screeches to a halt when he is almost arrested by the overeager Patrolman Mancuso--who mistakes him for a vagrant--and then involved in a car accident with his tipsy mother behind the wheel. One thing leads to another, and before he knows it, Ignatius is out pounding the pavement in search of a job.

Over the next several hundred pages, our hero stumbles from one adventure to the next. His stint as a hotdog vendor is less than successful, and he soon turns his employers at the Levy Pants Company on their heads. Ignatius's path through the working world is populated by marvelous secondary characters: the stripper Darlene and her talented cockatoo; the septuagenarian secretary Miss Trixie, whose desperate attempts to retire are constantly, comically thwarted; gay blade Dorian Greene; sinister Miss Lee, proprietor of the Night of Joy nightclub; and Myrna Minkoff, the girl Ignatius loves to hate. The many subplots that weave through A Confederacy of Dunces are as complicated as anything you'll find in a Dickens novel, and just as beautifully tied together in the end. But it is Ignatius--selfish, domineering, and deluded, tragic and comic and larger than life--who carries the story. He is a modern-day Quixote beset by giants of the modern age. His fragility cracks the shell of comic bluster, revealing a deep streak of melancholy beneath the antic humor. John Kennedy Toole committed suicide in 1969 and never saw the publication of his novel. Ignatius Reilly is what he left behind, a fitting memorial to a talented and tormented life. --Alix Wilber

Excerpt

No Excerpt Currently Available

Discussion Questions

Suggested by Members

There are discussion questions issued by the publisher.
by yachtlady (see profile) 04/20/16

What are issues with mother and son in this book?
Who is the most interesting character in this book?
What do you think happens after the end of the book?
by jolds (see profile) 09/13/13

Notes From the Author to the Bookclub

No notes at this time.

Book Club Recommendations

Be Careful
by SamKelley (see profile) 04/20/16
About half our bookclub did not finish the book and some even suggested that it be replaced. Fortunately our moderator saw the value and the selection remained.

Member Reviews

Overall rating:
 
 
by krilljack (see profile) 07/04/20

 
by nellysteele (see profile) 03/10/20

 
by olsonjr (see profile) 12/25/17

 
  "Confederacy of Dunces"by yachtlady (see profile) 04/20/16

Out of 8 members - 4 did not like the book enough to see the humor in the book so gave up reading it. The other 4 members would give it an overall 4 stars. This division did lead to a good discussion.

 
  "Confederacy of Dunces"by SamKelley (see profile) 04/20/16

It's a cult novel and you either get the humour and laugh your pants off or you don't get it and you hate the book! I fall into the "laugh" camp. It is beautifully plotted and as funny as Laurel and Hardy... (read more)

Rate this book
MEMBER LOGIN
Remember me
BECOME A MEMBER it's free

Join the leading website for book clubs with over 35,000 clubs and 20,000 reading guides.

SEARCH OUR READING GUIDES Search
Search




FEATURED EVENTS
PAST AUTHOR CHATS
JOIN OUR MAILING LIST

Get free weekly updates on top club picks, book giveaways, author events and more
Please wait...