Sunday, October 17, 2010

A Confederacy of Dunces

A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
Published 1981
338 pages
Classic; Pulitzer; Picaresque; FITG
4.5/5 stars

Source: Library

Summary: I've tried describing this before to my friends but I don't think I'm doing a very good job. Basically Ignatius J Reilly is a lazy eccentric who is forced to get a job leading to a series of adventures involving many Characters.

Thoughts: I was excited to read this because it's one of my dad's favorite books and he's recommended it to me before.  While I can appreciate its strong points, I don't think it's one of my favorites.  For one thing, I prefer a main character I love and would want to hang out with. Ignatius Reilly had many interesting characteristics but I would never want to meet him.  On the one hand, he's obsessed with the Middle Ages and thinks things would be better with an enlightened monarchy (I'm not saying he's wrong what with the way things are...)  He is very educated with a graduate degree and he speaks far beyond the comprehension of the people around, which is very funny to read.  On the other hand, he lies, he's selfish, and he's cruel to his mama among other offenses. So not someone I'd want to meet but someone who is a Character.

My favorite part of the book was how the disparate characters and earlier events tied together-I mean it's perfect.  It's not like crazy coincidences as Dickens does but instances that logically follow the previous events.  The part I didn't like was how intensely awkward some scenes were for me to read.  I could not have read this book all in one go because I had to take breaks and distance myself from what was happening.

It's been defined as a picaresque novel which I always associate with Don Quixote.  It's been a while since I've read that but I remember some of the occurrences escalating in a similar way so I can see it.  For example, Ignatius has a simple office job before he decides that he will organize the workers at a factory which almost leads to a riot.  It's amazing.

Overall: Intensely awkward at times, very funny at times with the perfect ending.

Cover: I found this cover weird at first but it actually makes perfect sense after reading the book.


  1. This sounds very interesting! I kind of really like characters who are awesome as characters, but would fail as real-life people, in the sense that you wouldn't want to meet them. Ignatius definitely sounds memorable and I am interested in this book because of him. Thanks for sharing!

  2. This book is in one of my (many) TBR stacks. I plan to read it one of these days...your review reinforces that desire. Very interesting and well-written review!

  3. I have heard so many good things about this book and every time i see it I think I should buy it, but I never do. Somehow its just not on my priority list despite the good reviews


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