A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole

A Confederacy of Dunces is a picaresque novel written by John Kennedy Toole, published in 1980, 11 years after the author's suicide. The book was published through the efforts of writer Walker Percy (who also contributed a revealing foreword) and Toole's mother Thelma Toole, quickly becoming a cult classic, and later a mainstream success. Toole posthumously won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1981. It is an important part of the 'modern canon' of Southern literature. The title derives from the epigraph by Jonathan Swift: "When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him." (Thoughts on Various Subjects, Moral and Diverting) The story is set in New Orleans in the early 1960s. The central character is Ignatius J. Reilly, an educated but slothful man still living with his mother at age 30 in the city's Uptown neighborhood, who, due to an incident early in the book, must set out to get a job. In his quest for employment he has various adventures with colorful French Quarter characters.

The 151st greatest fiction book of all time


This book is on the following lists:

  1. - 7th on The Ideal Library (Book)
  2. - 12th on The Best Southern Novels of All Time (Oxford American)
  3. - 15th on Koen Book Distributors Top 100 Books of the Past Century (themodernnovel.com)
  4. - 43rd on Entertainment Weekly's Top 100 Novels (Entertainment Weekly)
  5. - Best Books Ever (bookdepository.com)
  6. - Select 100 (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee)
  7. - Pulitzer Prize for Fiction (Pulitzer Prize)
  8. - The Great American Read (PBS)
  9. - The 80 Books Every Man Should Read (Esquire)
  10. - What Is the Best Work of American Fiction of the Last 25 Years? (New York Times)
  11. - The 100 Greatest American Novels, 1893 – 1993 (Jeff O'Neal at Bookriot.com)

Buy This Book

Name Binding Sales Rank Lowest New Lowest Used Published
A Confederacy of Dunces Kindle Edition 4837 $8.10 2007
A Confederacy of Dunces Hardcover 74117 $11.25 $2.76 2000
A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole (1987) Paperback Paperback 6060496 $30.71 $10.99 1987
La Conjura De Los Necios/a Confederacy of Dunces (Spanish Edition) Paperback 873554 $14.28 2006
La conjura de los necios (Compactos Anagrama) (Spanish Edition) Paperback 654412 $11.48 $10.48 2009
La conjura de los necios (Otra vuelta de tuerca) (Spanish Edition) Kindle Edition 660319 2013
La Conjura De Los Necios Hardcover 6328289 $740.74