A Confederacy of Dunces

In reading latest issue of Newsweek, learnt that Steven Soderbergh (of Traffic fame) is directing the movie version of book titled: A Confederacy Of Dunces. Movie is scheduled to arrive in theatres sometime in 2004. I am praying that this film adaptation goes well. This comedic classic with a huge following is on my top ten list of all time favorite reads — and I’ve read a lot of books. Story revolves around the adventures of oddball New Orleans denizen Ignatius J. Reilly and his misadventures working at a series of menial jobs. The book is really a sad story but it’s also funny as heck. What is really sad too is that the author, John Kennedy Toole committed suicide in 1969 (at the age of 32) because he couldn’t get the novel published. Thankfully, his mother picked up the torch and finally got it published by Louisiana State University Press in 1980. It won a Pulitzer Prize in 1981.

17 Comments
  1. It is a really good book, too. I read it originally because it felt soft, and it was about New Orleans (former home). It was great for a local…very authentic descriptions of the city.

  2. A Confederacy of Dunces is one of my all-time favorite books. Although the book always seems to be better than the movie, my hope is for a smashing cinematic success. You non-readers should make an exception and check out this funny, funny book. Long live the foibles of Ignatius J. Reilly!

  3. I thought this was one of the most hideous pieces of literature I’ve ever read. Though it was entertaining the storyline was terrrible.

  4. People can get to be so jaded when commenting on works of storytelling. Someone commented on a “Confederacy of Dunces” storyline being terrible. There was no storyline and that was the problem that a certain editor back in the sixties was had when making heads or tail of this work. This reviewer did mention it being entertaining. In the end that’s all a good story needs to be. The more we can get from it the better. But people are breaking things down and making judgements. If you’re entertained, moved, or enlightened in any way then that’s all that really matters. If a storyline is too obvious then the whole thing may feel mechanical. There are no rules!

  5. I had originally read this book in the early eighties while living in New Orleans. It was loaned to me by the drummer of a band I played in back then. I have never forgotten this book. I recently returned to New Orleans on my honeymoon and picked up a used copy at a french quarter book store. I had just read in the Times Picyune that the book would finally be made into a film. After re-reading the story, I find it extremely hard to believe that “Confederacy” will not be a horrible film. I feel sorry for anyone who chooses to see this film without first reading the fantastic novel. Too much of the story is told in the thoughts of it’s characters to play well on the screen in keeping with the fluidity of style found in Mr. Toole’s book.

  6. I have read The Confederacy of Dunces several times. I was so happy to hear it was being made into a movie. Films needs the kind of characters John Kennedy Toole created. I think everyone who really loves the book hopes the film will do it justice. I have seen many great books slaughtered when out into film. Ever see “Midnight In The Garden Of Good and Evil”? Whatever actor plays the lead role I say play the hell out of it!!! You have a great character to play!!!

  7. I have just finished reading the book again. to anyone who says the book was terrible, how is that so? does a novel need to stick to a straight story line ot be good? why can’t it just follow the tribulations of an oddball character who, everywhere he goes, seems to affect whomever he contacts…what characters were offensive? ignatius was a big, smart, lazy oaf…his mamma was simple, but genuine..the other characters (like santa battaglia, patrolman mancuso, burma jones, etc) are straight outta new orleans..anyone who is from here knows someone like one of those characters….
    as for the movie, i am skeptical….on one hand, at least the sceenplay is by soderberg, who has connections to this area. but, all other movies featuring new orleans character has been awful…who remembers ‘the big easy??’ and i don’t like the choice of will ferrell as ignatius…i just don’t see it…..

  8. One of my faves, and a book I re-read every four or five years. Honestly, I’m sorry to see this epic novel come to the big screen. I have enjoyed being a member of the secret fraternity of devotees, and feel a movie treatment will diminish this work (or strengthen it-?). Certainly, if it is delivered with all the characterizations of Jones, Trixy, Mr. Levy, Gonzales, et al, the PC Police will be all over it. Like Ignatious, I will broadcast popcorn all over the theater while screaming, “Filth! Degenerates!” Before “Confederacy,” I never really understood New Orleans. Oh, well–

  9. This is a fabulous novel, full of life, vim and vigor. It is too bad Miramax recently dropped the financing ball and the cast and crew will have to find other backers, especially now that the wonderful Lily Tomlin is slated to play the mother. This is a very difficult and complex book to script for stage or screen, but I have written a stage adaptation which i call Wheel of Fortuna. Having cut about one third of the book, I feel I now have a manageable script. Although Irene and Ignatius (mother and son main characters) are portrayed as Caucasian, putting black actors in the roles would probably greatly enhance and de-politicize what many might feel are politically incorrect or outmoded ideas about race. I nominate Whoopi Goldberg and Tracey Morgan for the roles!

  10. I just read that Will Ferrell will play Ignatius..well I like Will Ferrell but I see more of a Randy Quaid in the role of Ignatius…Difficult book to make into a movie. I hope they pull it off. I read this book while riding the NY Subway to and from work and it was the first book in a long while that made me laugh out loud…I got alot of strange stares on the trains..I am praying they do a good job…would be so disappointing otherwise…

  11. THERE IS A LITTLE IGNATIOUS J. RIELLY IN ALL OF US. WHENEVER I FEEL TOO PRETENTIOUS, ARROGANT, OR SELF RIGHTIOUS, ALL I HAVE TO DO IS RECALL TOOLE’S MONSTROSITY AND I IMMEDIATELY HUMBLE MYSELF.THANK YOU IGNATIOUS.

  12. I thought that Jack Black looks a heck of a lot more like Ignatious Riley as discribed in the book, short, fat, nebishy. I also think that he could carry it off because part of the charm of the character is how he puts down his various bosses with thinly disguised arrogance which, Black could pull off better than Farrell in my opinion.
    Farrell would likely be taller than most of the other actors and the characters that I have seen him play are more the good hearted bumbling fool, as in Elf, where the twinkle of scintilating wit and superior intelligence is not evident as it should be with the character. If he can pull it off, it will certainly be a departure from his pevious work wheras Black seems tailor made for the role.
    Does any one else see this vision?

  13. All I say is I hope they put their act together for this movie, and don’t turn the book into one of those so-common Hollywood garbage flicks, with scandalous lacks of geometry and theology 😛

  14. I just read Dunces for the second time, having first read it about 20 years ago. It was even more entertaining the 2nd time. The stage rendition was a disappointment. Those doing the movie have a tough job ahead to come even close to the book. I hope they don’t screw up by substituting a southern accent for Toole’s brilliant writing of New Orlean’s yat. From anyone who didn’t like Dunces, I’d like to hear what they did like.

  15. Will Farrell is playing Ignatius? That’s all I needed to know. I WON’T waste time nor money on the movie. Whoever did that bout of casting should be lashed!

  16. I’ve spent over 20 years re-reading Confederacy and debating who should play Ignatius in a movie. The best suggestion I ever heard was Roger C. Carmel who played Harry Mudd on Star Trek. Not sure if he’s alive but he’d be too old now. Here’s a picture of him. Tell me he’s not Ignatius.
    http://www.tvtome.com/tvtome/servlet/PersonDetail/personid-12487
    By the way, Ignatius was tall so don’t give me Jack Black. Will Ferrell is questionable as well but that’s who it’s gonna be so let’s hope he can pull it off.
    There’s a reason this movie hasen’t been made – whoever screws it up will be lashed – and this is no easy movie to make. The key will be how they capture Ignatius’ thoughts and written words.
    I’m quite sure it will suck. I hope I’m wrong.

  17. I am currently reading Confederacy for about the fourth or fifth time. Reflecting upon Will Ferell’s previous movie roles (“Elf” and the disco movie whose name escapes me), I don’t see how he was chosen to play Ignatius — unless, of course they put him in a fat suit.
    Who in the world will be Miss Trixie/Gus Levy’s mother? Lana Lee? I think the obvious for Lee is Ann Margaret. Myrna is begging to be played by Jeanean Garaffolo. Chris Rock for Jones. And Rene Zellwiger for the stripper…
    I just hope Will Farrell and the rest of the crew play their roles “straight” and don’t go for any verbal pratfalls. The lack of “plot” is what makes the novel: a comedic recitation of seemingly mundane characters’ lives.

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