Latam Booklook: 'A Confederacy of Dunces' by John Kenedy Toole

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In this hilarious novel, human nature and capitalism are questioned based on its protagonist, Ignatius Rilley, a particular and emblematic character

Latam Booklook: 'A Condeferacy of Dunces' by John Kenedy Toole
Read in english: Latam Booklook: 'La conjura de los necios' de John Kenedy Toole

What is it about?

A Confederacy of Dunces introduces us Ignatius Rilley, a man who at his adult age still lives with his mother and refuses to work, because he is totally against capitalism. He is described as a fat, large man, with greasy hair and obsessed with sausages; his physique is clearly unpleasant, besides that his personality is egocentric and he believes himself a wise man among all those around him, which leads him to be despised by them. Ignatius has an obsession with medieval and religious beliefs of that time, like the fortune goddess, which being unpredictable ends up putting him in a very unpleasant situation: having to work because he must pay a debt. It is from this premise that Ignatius becomes a slave to capitalism and meets people as strange and maladjusted as he is.

Kennedy Toole uses a very funny language, accents of different American regions and absurd situations that make this book extremely fun to read. It is precisely from this that the author manages to overcome that irony, sarcasm, and grace to turn the novel into a sample and critique of how low humans have fallen to maintain comfortable and stable.



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Who wrote it?

John Kennedy Toole was an American author from New Orleans, Louisiana. He is recognized above all for A Confederacy of Dunces , a novel that he sent many times to many publishers who always ended up rejecting it. Because of this, Toole entered into a strong stage of despair and sank into alcohol, until on March 26, 1969, he decided to end his life by drowning and intoxicating himself with the smoke of the exhaust pipe of his car.

After this, his mother, Thelma Toole, devoted herself to showing the manuscript of his work in every publishing house she could until it was accepted in one. The book was published in 1980 and won the Pulitzer Prize for its editorial success and reached the best-seller list in several countries.

Two of his novels have been published, both posthumous. The Neon Bible is the second, a novel he wrote at the age of 16, but never presented to publishers because he considered it very adolescent.

Read also: Latam Booklook:"Los ingrávidos" de Valeria Luiselli

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Do I read it or not?

A Confederacy of Dunces is one of those books that are considered classic and should be read and reread. This novel shows in many ways the discomfort with the capitalist world, the absurdity of the American fear of communism and above all the ridicule of the human being who believes himself superior to other beings.

Yes, I recommend reading this novel not only because it is considered a classic, but because it is extremely funny, while generating in the reader a sense of strangeness before such a character, a feeling that can vary between a kind of empathy and detachment for his ugly looks. In addition, it is impossible to read the book and not understand in a certain way how misfit is its protagonist in a world that does enslave, but to which we are all subject for fear of leaving a comfort zone. Although, of course, there are times when we also judge and call him lazy, because despite the fair critics he makes he is one.


LatinAmerican Post | Vanesa López

Translated from "Latam Booklook: 'La conjura de los necios' de John Kenedy Toole"