251-A Confederacy of Dunces – New Orleans

A Confederacy of Dunces is a novel written by John Kennedy Toole, published in 1980, 11 years after the author’s suicide. Toole posthumously won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for the book in 1981.

The title derives from the book’s 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.”

The story is set in the city of New Orleans in the early 1960s. The central character is Ignatius J. Reilly, an intelligent but slothful man still living with his mother at age 30 in Uptown New Orleans, who, because of family circumstances, must set out to get a job. In his quest for employment he has various adventures with colorful French Quarter characters.

Even though this book is fiction, there is a real Ignatius and he can still be seen in Uptown. He and his mother frequent the Prytania Theater and are often seen riding the bus around town. I saw them walking on Canal St. on this visit but to get a photo would have been rude.


The statue of Ignatius J. Reilly stands under the clock at the Canal Street entrance of the Chateau Sonesta Hotel in New Orleans.

dunces1Book cover.