John Kennedy Toole's posthumous novel, A Confederacy of Dunces, was published some 11 years after his suicide with the help of writer Walker Percy and Toole's mother. It became a cult classic almost instantly because of its protagonist Ignatius Reilly, "without progenitor in any literature I know of -- 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."
To quote Percy again, "Toole's greatest achievement is Ignatius Reilly himself, intellectual, ideologue, deadbeat, goof-off, glutton, who should repel the reader with his gargantuan bloats, his thunderous contempt and one-man war against everybody -- Freud, homosexuals, heterosexuals, Protestants, and the assorted excesses of modern times."
A short example from early in the novel where a Barney Fife-like police officer aims to arrest Ignatius after a department store incident:
"How old is he?" the policeman asked Mrs. Reilly
"I am thirty," Ignatius said condescendingly.
"You got a job?"
"Ignatius hasta help me at home," Mrs. Reilly said. Her initial courage was failing a little, and she began to twist the lute string with the cord on the cake boxes. "I got terrible arthritis."
"I dust a bit," Ignatius told the policeman. "In addition, I am at the moment writing a lengthy indictment against our century. When my brain begins to reel from my literary labors, I make an occasional cheese dip."
Tags: John Kennedy Toole, A Confederacy of Dunces