John Kennedy Toole, A Confederacy of Dunces

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John Kennedy Toole’s comic novel

A Confederacy of Dunces

(1980) recounts the misadventures of Ignatius Jacques Reilly, an obese, lazy, obnoxious, opinionated, erudite, quixotic thirty-year-old medievalist who views himself as “an anachronism” (Toole, 71): he criticizes, and alienates himself from, the contemporary reality of 1960s New Orleans, preferring, in the “Miltonic isolation” (139) of his bedroom, an idealized medieval worldview inspired by Boethius’

Consolation of Philosophy

and determined by Fortuna, the goddess of fortune.

The book opens with Ignatius waiting for his mother Irene outside a New Orleans department store. Sporting his signature “bushy black moustache” and “green hunting cap”, the “elephantine” (13) Ignatius arouses the suspicion of Patrolman

3761 words

Citation: Fachard, Alexandre. "A Confederacy of Dunces". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 12 July 2016 [, accessed 14 April 2024.]

35744 A Confederacy of Dunces 3 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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