A Confederacy of Dunces
by John Kennedy Toole John Kennedy Toole's lunatic novel introduces one of the most memorable characters in American literature, Ignatius Reilly who is in revolt against the entire modern age. A morbidly obese 30 year old with an MA in Medieval Studies, Ignatius is unemployed and lives with his widowed mother, whom he treats abominably. He spends his days watching junk TV, going to movies, obsessing about his overtaxed digestive system, and writing florid denunciations of modern culture. A drunk-driving charge and fine which has to be paid, forces Ignatius to find a job. Protesting loudly al the while, he does manage to work of sorts; as a file clerk at Levy Pants and a hot-dog vendor in the French Quarter. He also encounters an increasingly bizarre chain of events that blunder to a surprisingly just conclusion. The author, even though he was young when he wrote this book, was brilliant in his observations of human nature and the different quirky characteristics a personality could possess. All the characters around Ignatius J. Reilly, the main character of the book, were portrayed as dunces, an alliance of morons and dimwits. Ignatius thought "I am apparently trapped in a limbo of lost souls." (Page 238) All of Toole's characters seem to be misfits of one sort or another. All had problems in their lives, problems from within their own personality or forced upon them by society or their station in life. All the while Ignatius thought of himself as the opposite of a dunce: a genius, a scholar, a wise man. This kind of thought lead him to think of himself as having no peers, no equals "for I mingle with my peers or no one-and since I have no peers, I mingle with no one," (page 134) This Pulitzer Prize winning novel is a masterpiece of human folly and tragedy.