After more than three decades, the peerless wit and indulgent absurdity of A Confederacy of Dunces continues to attract new readers. Though the manuscript was rejected by many publishers during Toole’s lifetime, his mother successfully published the book years after her son’s suicide, and it won the 1981 Pulitzer Prize for fiction. This literary underdog and comic masterpiece has sold more than two million copies in twenty-three languages.
The 35th anniversary edition of A Confederacy of Dunces celebrates Toole’s novel as well as one of the most memorable protagonists in American literature, Ignatius J. Reilly, whom Walker Percy dubbed “slob extraordinaire, a mad Oliver Hardy, a fat Don Quixote, a perverse Thomas Aquinas rolled into one.” Set in New Orleans with a wild cast of characters including Ignatius and his mother; Miss Trixie, the octogenarian assistant accountant at Levi Pants; inept, wan Patrolman Mancuso; Darlene, the Bourbon Street stripper with a penchant for poultry; and Jones, the jivecat in space-age dark glasses, the novel serves as an outlandish but believable tribute to a city defined by its parade of eccentric denizens.
The genius of A Confederacy of Dunces is reaffirmed as successive generations embrace this extravagant satire. Adulation for Toole’s comic epic remains as intense today as thirty-five years ago.
John Kennedy Toole was born in New Orleans in 1937 and died in 1969. After graduating from Tulane University, he received a master's degree from Columbia University and taught at Hunter College, the University of Southwestern Louisiana, and Dominican College. Much of the first draft of Confederacy was written while he was in the army, stationed in Puerto Rico teaching English to new recruits.
Praise for A Confederacy of Dunces
“A masterwork . . . the novel astonishes with its inventiveness . . . it is nothing less than a grand comic fugue.”—New York Times Book Review
“Crazy magnificent once-in-a-blue-moon first novel. . . . There is a touch of genius about Toole and what he has created.”—Publishers Weekly
“One of the funniest books ever written . . . it will make you laugh out loud till your belly aches and your eyes water.”—The New Republic
“To the charms of John Kennedy Toole’s A Confederacy of Dunces, I succumbed, stunned and seduced, page after page, vocal with delight. . . . A pungent work of slapstick, satire, and intellectual incongruities.”—New York Times
“One of the most revered comic works in the modern canon.”—Slate
“An astonishingly original and assured comic spree.”—New York Magazine
“The novel can hardly contain burstingly funny Ignatius—and the mix of high and low comedy is almost stroboscopic: brilliant, relentless, delicious, perhaps even classic.”—Kirkus Reviews
“[Toole’s] novel is a parade of victorious laughter, just like those famous jazz funerals in New Orleans.”—The Millions