Released by Louisiana State University Press in April 1980, A confederacy of Dunces is nothing short ora publishing phenomenon. Turned down by countless publishers and submitted by the author''s mother years after his suicide, the book won the 1981 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. Today there are over 1.5 million copies in print worldwide in eighteen different languages.
Toole''s lunatic and sage novel introduces one of the most memorable characters in American literature, Ignatius Reilly, whom Walker Percy dubs "slob extraordinary; a mad Oliver Hardy, a fat Don Quixote, a perverse Thomas Aquinas rolled into one -- who is in violent revolt against the entire modern age." Ignatius''s ire explodes when his mother backs into an automobile. The owner of the damaged vehicle insists on payment; Mrs. Reilly demands that her son cease watching television and writing in his Big Chief tablet and get a job.
Set in New Orleans, A Confederacy of Dunces outswifts Swift, one of whose essays gives the book its title. As its characters burst into life, they leave the region and literature forever changed by their presence -- Ignatius and his mother; Miss Trixie, the octogenarian assistant accountant at Levi Pants; inept, wan Patrolman Mancuso; Darlene, the Bourbon Street stripper with a penchant for poultry; Jones, the jivecat in spaceage dark glasses. Satire and farce animate A Confederacy of Dunces; tragic awareness ennobles it.
The twentieth anniversary edition will include a new introduction looking back on the history of this modern-day classic. Louisiana State University Press will celebrate the anniversary with a birthday party during the Tennessee Williams Festival in New Orleans in March 2000.John McConnell, the actor who brilliantly portrayed Ignatius in the Swine Palace stage production of A Confederacy of Dunces, will be on hand and in character to blow out the candles.