A Confederacy of Dunces

Ignatius J. Reilly and His Confederacy of Unforgettable Supporting Characters College

More than a few critics, academics, scholars and just plain average book readers have declared a winner in the title of funniest novel ever written by an American author: A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole. This remarkable novel would likely have become one of the legendary efforts of American fiction even without its tragic real-life origin story of a determined mother hell-bent on getting her dead son's masterpiece published following his suicide. Without doubt, what makes A Confederacy of Dunces one of the most truly enjoyable reading experiences available in the English language is the majesty of its most unforgettable character, Ignatius J. Reilly. While Fitzgerald ultimately felt the compunction to guide the reader to believing Gatsby is great by putting it right there in the title, Ignatius needs no such assistance. His greatness fairly leaps off every page on which he appears. Ignatius Reilly is an obese, intolerant, unemployed man-child still utterly dependent upon his mother despite being a 30-year-old scholar eternally at work scrawling “a lengthy indictment against century in longhand on elementary school lined paper. The ostentatious presence of Ignatius is so commanding that his presence lingers over...

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