John Kennedy Toole: A Confederacy of Dunces (3761 words)


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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�…

Citation: Fachard, Alexandre. "A Confederacy of Dunces". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 12 July 2016 [, accessed 03 August 2020.]

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