Thursday, June 14, 2012

reads #6: april 2012

A Confederacy of Dunces (John Kennedy Toole, 1980)
There's probably a consensus on how Ignatius J Reilly is the most hatable protagonist in the history of literature. He is *the* character with absolutely no redeeming quality. Then you would wonder why one'd inflict it upon themselves to keep reading about such an awful personae? Well probably for his 'pearls of wisdom' that will make you laugh out loud in public places and then smile because behind their politic incorrectness, some ring of truth. The book very much feels like a collection of Ignatius' misadventures, so there's not much of a plot to tell.
I had a great time reading it and I became intrigued by the writer himself who, as you may know, committed suicide. Reading his wiki page, I discovered that he had the ironic fate of turning into his own character. He initially based him on one of his professors at university but the similarities between Toole and Ignatius grew deeper as he advanced in life. Although known in his youth for being outgoing, he gradually sank into depression and paranoia as his manuscript for Confederacy... got endlessly rejected.
He poignantly wrote to an editor:
I don't want to throw these characters away. In other words, I'm going to work on the book again. I haven't been able to look at the manuscript since I got it back, but since something of my soul is in the thing, I can't let it rot without trying.
The editor refused to publish it despite countless rewrites because he felt the book didn't have a reason. This is worth a debate in itself.
One day after a violent dispute with his mother, Toole left the house and drove to California where he visited Hearst Castle. He then went South, tried to visit Flannery O'Connor's house but it was closed to the public. He stopped his car somewhere in Mississippi and ended his days, aged 31 (1969).
I've never been to the Hearst's mansion but I fancy the idea that John Kennedy Toole decided that it would be one of the last place he'd visited before dying.

Favourite quote: Canned food is a perversion. I suspect that it is ultimately very damaging to the soul.


CĂ©lestine Causette said...

Il est sur ma "reading list"!
Un jour, j'y arriverai...


moira said...

Tu me diras ce que t en penses quand le jour viendra!

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