10 Books in 10 Days, Day 8

“A Confederacy of Dunces”, by the late John Kennedy Toole.

This is one of my favorite books and is one that breaks my heart. Much has been made of Mr. Toole’s suicide at the initial failure to get the book published, and his mother’s 11 year quest to finally get the book published, and regarded as a masterpiece of North American Fiction. The book’s title refers to an epigram from Jonathan Swift’s essay, Thoughts on Various Subjects, Moral and Diverting: “When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him.”

Its central character, Ignatius J. Reilly, is an educated but slobovian 30-year-old man living with his mother in the Uptown neighborhood of early 1960s New Orleans who, in his quest for employment, has various adventures with the outrageous denizens of my favorite city, PRE-Hurricane Katrina New Orleans, Louisiana (America’s most European City – I miss you!).

Ignatius Jacques Reilly is something of a modern Don Quixote—eccentric, idealistic, and creative, sometimes to the point of lunacy. He disdains modernity, particularly pop culture. (my man!). The disdain becomes his obsession: he goes to movies in order to mock their perversity and express his outrage with the contemporary world’s lack of “theology and geometry”. He prefers the philosophy of the Middle Ages, and the Medieval philosopher Boethius in particular. However, he also enjoys many modern comforts and conveniences and is given to claiming that the rednecks of rural Louisiana hate all modern technology, which they associate with progress. He is an eccentric, an individual who dances to the beat of his inner drum.

If you know or are from the Crescent City, the book puts you right there on every street corner. You feel the grime, and the heat rising off the pavement like a fine fog. You taste the “ Lucky Dogs”, and feel the muggy subtropical air almost hypnotize you until you are pulled back in to another situation our stalwart Ignatius pulls you into. I’m a purveyor of the unusual and absurd. I hope I sell you on the hi-jinx! The many sounds of New Orleans, I could have picked something sublime, but it’s time to have some fun!

Don’t let it slip by ya, they ALL asked for YOU! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2YTb41pTIVY