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A Confederacy of Dunces (the Book, not the Movie)

EvanderEvander Disappointed FatherRegistered User regular
edited June 2007 in Debate and/or Discourse
First of all, yes, I realize that there is not movie.



Anyway, I just in the past week discovered and listened to (I am a busy man) this book, and I have to say I enjoyed it a lot, and would like to discuss it with anyoneelse who is so inclined.



As a 22 year old, who just so happens to have an immense stature (though thankfully not quite such a finnicky valve) and who is also on the "long term" track for completing college, having just moved back into his parents' house, I definitely was able to relateto Ignatius more than I might have liked to. Of course, there were also IMMENSE differences, of course.



Also, as far as Burma Jones is concerned, and maybe this is just because of the way thatthe narrator read his part, Jar Jar Binks seems to ENTIRELY be a rip-off of his character. Heh, beyond that, I have to see that he was a WONDERFUL commedic black character that didn't rely on stereotypes, and that is quite admirable.



Overall, the story makes me wonder about it's author. I wonder whether or not there was a bit of Ignatius in himself, and if so, how much?

Evander on

Posts

  • EvanderEvander Disappointed Father Registered User regular
    edited June 2007
    Nothing?

    I'm dissappointed.

    Has anyone else here even read it?

    Evander on
  • ElkiElki get busy Moderator, ClubPA mod
    edited June 2007
    Never read it, but I do remember hearing it trashed in one of our book threads.

    Elki on
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  • EvanderEvander Disappointed Father Registered User regular
    edited June 2007
    What was it trashed for, do you remember?



    I can see it possibly called overrated (not that I would consider it such, personally, but I see the claim made)

    but overall, I don't see what it could truely betrashed for, not that I wouldn't be willing to discuss that, too ;)

    Evander on
  • nexuscrawlernexuscrawler Registered User regular
    edited June 2007
    It was ok. I think the humor was probably much edgier in it's day but by our standards it seemed a tad tame. Pity te guy killed himself he did have the potiental to be a really good satirist.

    nexuscrawler on
  • EvanderEvander Disappointed Father Registered User regular
    edited June 2007
    the thing about the edginess of the humor actually interested me.

    I mean, I'm not sure when exactly the book was written, but I know thatthe author killed himself in 1969, but the book wasn't published until 1980. I doubt that the humor was as edgy in the eighties as it might have been in the sixites, even

    In that sense, it felt something like a time capsule to me. Just like Ignatius felt that he was a man out of his own time, the book itself exists out of its proper time.

    Evander on
  • flamebroiledchickenflamebroiledchicken Registered User regular
    edited June 2007
    I think a lot of people hate it because they don't like books with an unlikeable protagonist. It's come up before with other books too, people hate The Great Gatsby because everyone's a rich asshole, people hate Catcher in the Rye because Holden is an angsty jerk. Me, I've never had that problem. I can like a book even if I don't like the characters as people. It's been a long time since I've read it, but I remember liking Confederacy of Dunces, despite the main character being a slob and a douchebag.

    flamebroiledchicken on
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  • EvanderEvander Disappointed Father Registered User regular
    edited June 2007
    I've noticed before people's issues with an unlikable protagonist.

    Except, normally this seems to come up when you are supposed to be sympathetic to the protagonist. In CoD, you are given no reason to sympathize with Ignatius. He is presented as an awful human being who has made those around him miserable, and the reader is never asked to feel at all that he is in the right. If anything, you are drawn to sympathize with his mother, who is forced to put up with him, and with Burma Jones, who is a seemingly decent human being being treated unfairly by society on account of his race, and with Mr. Levy, who has been left with a company he'd rather not be running, is married to a wife who doesn't seem to like him, and has daughters who seem to resent him.



    It is some what of an interesting reversal in that, while there is no true conspiracy against Ignatius, the sympathetic characters in the book are among those whom Ignatius might percieve to be conspiring against him. In this way, dislike of Ignatius is actually encouraged for the reader. Even from the very begining of the book, with it's rather unflattering discription of Ignatius' physical appearance, I felt that this was made clear.

    Evander on
  • FandyienFandyien But Otto, what about us? Registered User regular
    edited June 2007
    I think most people ended up - at the very least - pitying Ignatius towards the end. I mean, the poor fat fuck had to haul himself outside and waddle around selling hot dogs, something he was utterly incapable of doing without incredible social discord.

    It gets pretty depressing when you realize that Ignatius is an intelligent character in a world that is presented as being full of absolute morons, but he's the also the most immense douchebag there. Plus, I mean, I honestly just felt sorry for the poor fatty at some points because despite his malign attitude, he was clearly overwhelmed by some serious social anxiety issues which he couldn't do a damn thing about.

    Fandyien on
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  • nexuscrawlernexuscrawler Registered User regular
    edited June 2007
    Except the girlfirend God I loathed her letters....

    nexuscrawler on
  • The Green Eyed MonsterThe Green Eyed Monster i blame hip hop Registered User regular
    edited June 2007
    Grossly overrated, beneficiary of the Suicide Syndrome where it gains notoriety based more on the author's death than the actual merit of the book. Offers very little besides a pat lampooning of polite society, which really is pretty trite in the end. I remember only thinking it was so-so upon completing it, and then realizing it was really quite forgettable the more distance I had between me and it.

    The Green Eyed Monster on
  • EvanderEvander Disappointed Father Registered User regular
    edited June 2007
    Fandyien wrote: »
    I think most people ended up - at the very least - pitying Ignatius towards the end. I mean, the poor fat fuck had to haul himself outside and waddle around selling hot dogs, something he was utterly incapable of doing without incredible social discord.

    It gets pretty depressing when you realize that Ignatius is an intelligent character in a world that is presented as being full of absolute morons, but he's the also the most immense douchebag there. Plus, I mean, I honestly just felt sorry for the poor fatty at some points because despite his malign attitude, he was clearly overwhelmed by some serious social anxiety issues which he couldn't do a damn thing about.

    I think it's true that you may come to pity Ignatius by the end, but I don't think anyone could justify his plight as being the fault of anyone other than himself, and it is also clearly noticable that when given the chance to redeem himself in the slightest, he activly digs himself deeper.

    Even in the very end of the book
    when he is being rescued by Myrna, we see that he insists on sitting in the rear of the car, and barking orders at her, much as he had to his mother. Even the threat of being locked away in an asylum did not change him. Even the opportunity to begin a new life with the one person who seemed to care about him despite knowing him did not change him.

    At the end of the book we are left with an unchanged Ignatius, however that does not mean that the story went no where, because we are also left with a world that changed around him, so there has been definite progress through the story.



    In some ways, the story might be viewed as how eventual good can come even from negative actions and behavior, which might bother some, but even so, the book does not seem to encourage negative behavior for this purpose, but rather, it focusses on individuals making the most of the negative behavior around them which is out of their control.



    And while Ignatius is indeed presented as an intelligent individual, he is also an individual who is entirely lacking in common sense. He talks about "negros" enjoying watermelon, and then quickly follows the comment up by saying that he is not intending to be racist, he is merely under the impression that watermelon is something that negros tend to enjoy. He believes that the french quarter is full of deviants, so he creates a sign for his hot dog cart that says "twelve inches of paradise" in order to attract customers.

    He may have the capability of great understanding, and he may have a wealth of book knowledge, but it is clear that not only does he lack an understanding of the world around him, but he refuses to gain that understanding, instead declaring the world around him to be beneath him.

    His many years of schooling, culminating in a master's degree, and the contrast to that of his refusal to even leave the city of New Orleans, are a great example of the dichotomy of his intelligence versus his practical knowledge.

    Evander on
  • EvanderEvander Disappointed Father Registered User regular
    edited June 2007
    celery77 wrote: »
    Grossly overrated, beneficiary of the Suicide Syndrome where it gains notoriety based more on the author's death than the actual merit of the book. Offers very little besides a pat lampooning of polite society, which really is pretty trite in the end. I remember only thinking it was so-so upon completing it, and then realizing it was really quite forgettable the more distance I had between me and it.

    I'm not sure of any polite society at all that was portrayed in the book. It dealt mainly with societal deviants and rebels.

    Evander on
  • The Green Eyed MonsterThe Green Eyed Monster i blame hip hop Registered User regular
    edited June 2007
    Evander wrote: »
    celery77 wrote: »
    Grossly overrated, beneficiary of the Suicide Syndrome where it gains notoriety based more on the author's death than the actual merit of the book. Offers very little besides a pat lampooning of polite society, which really is pretty trite in the end. I remember only thinking it was so-so upon completing it, and then realizing it was really quite forgettable the more distance I had between me and it.

    I'm not sure of any polite society at all that was portrayed in the book. It dealt mainly with societal deviants and rebels.
    Well I just mean like his mother and his family and his office job and such, those are the only real things I remember that well any more (it's been years since I read it). I just remember it being kinda antisocial, which hardly a good book makes for me any more.

    The Green Eyed Monster on
  • EvanderEvander Disappointed Father Registered User regular
    edited June 2007
    celery77 wrote: »
    Evander wrote: »
    celery77 wrote: »
    Grossly overrated, beneficiary of the Suicide Syndrome where it gains notoriety based more on the author's death than the actual merit of the book. Offers very little besides a pat lampooning of polite society, which really is pretty trite in the end. I remember only thinking it was so-so upon completing it, and then realizing it was really quite forgettable the more distance I had between me and it.

    I'm not sure of any polite society at all that was portrayed in the book. It dealt mainly with societal deviants and rebels.
    Well I just mean like his mother and his family and his office job and such, those are the only real things I remember that well any more (it's been years since I read it). I just remember it being kinda antisocial, which hardly a good book makes for me any more.

    His mother was an alcoholic who allowed herself to be victimized by her son, rather than asserting herself to him. I don't know whether or not this is polite society, but the victim role that his mother played was not much of a lampoon, but rather, a representation of the very real way that individuqals who are victimized in an abusive relationship tend to act.

    His office job also I do not see as being any sort of lampooning. Gonzales was not a critique of any sort of person, and was honestly a rather likable guy, if not a little pitiable for the fact that he genuinely cared about the company more than the owner did, and also allowed himself to be taken advantage of by his employees. Ms. Trixie, on the other hand, was an extremely outrageous character, but would have been so in any setting, and while she WAS placed in the office, there was nothing about her character which was inherent to an office.

    In fact, overall, one of the strengths I felt the book had, which I respected, was that it seemed to do very well at shying away from stereotypes, in most instances.



    I am not saying, of course, that you were wrong in disliking the book, taste is, as always, subjective, but I don't see the aplicability of your criticisms against the book, since you are bringing up things that simply weren't there.

    Evander on
  • The Green Eyed MonsterThe Green Eyed Monster i blame hip hop Registered User regular
    edited June 2007
    Evander wrote: »
    I am not saying, of course, that you were wrong in disliking the book, taste is, as always, subjective, but I don't see the aplicability of your criticisms against the book, since you are bringing up things that simply weren't there.
    Dude don't apologize for disagreeing with me -- I'm an English major, I can take it.

    I guess what I mean is not that it "lampoons", but that it supposes to show the "true" nature of these things, taking typically positive environments and "revealing" the corruption and negativity present in these places, like showing the dark heart of what most people would otherwise view as "normal" society. Maybe it is like nexus said, just a fallout of not placing it in the proper context, but I think even placed in the proper context there was plenty of literature that dealt with similar themes (like -- yes -- Catcher in the Rye). Maybe I should just read it again (I know it's still sitting on my bookshelf) but I can say it failed to make quite the impression on me that I've heard other people talking about it with.

    The Green Eyed Monster on
  • DirtchamberDirtchamber Registered User regular
    edited June 2007
    celery77 wrote: »
    Dude don't apologize for disagreeing with me -- I'm an English major, I can take it.

    I guess what I mean is not that it "lampoons", but that it supposes to show the "true" nature of these things, taking typically positive environments and "revealing" the corruption and negativity present in these places, like showing the dark heart of what most people would otherwise view as "normal" society. Maybe it is like nexus said, just a fallout of not placing it in the proper context, but I think even placed in the proper context there was plenty of literature that dealt with similar themes (like -- yes -- Catcher in the Rye). Maybe I should just read it again (I know it's still sitting on my bookshelf) but I can say it failed to make quite the impression on me that I've heard other people talking about it with.

    I didn't get that all. In my view, the entire book is just one giant character study of Ignatius. The plot is merely a means of giving his personality a number of different ways to express itself. When the book exposes the "corruption and negativity" present in fairly ordinary situations and environments, it does so on behalf of Ignatius, showing how the gravity of his numerous flaws warps the world around him until everything becomes as fucked up as he is.

    Overall, I enjoyed it quite a bit - probably because I've met quite a few people like Ignatius. They're more pervasive than you might think. Especially on the net. :|

    Dirtchamber on
  • EvanderEvander Disappointed Father Registered User regular
    edited June 2007
    celery77 wrote: »
    Evander wrote: »
    I am not saying, of course, that you were wrong in disliking the book, taste is, as always, subjective, but I don't see the aplicability of your criticisms against the book, since you are bringing up things that simply weren't there.
    Dude don't apologize for disagreeing with me -- I'm an English major, I can take it.

    I guess what I mean is not that it "lampoons", but that it supposes to show the "true" nature of these things, taking typically positive environments and "revealing" the corruption and negativity present in these places, like showing the dark heart of what most people would otherwise view as "normal" society. Maybe it is like nexus said, just a fallout of not placing it in the proper context, but I think even placed in the proper context there was plenty of literature that dealt with similar themes (like -- yes -- Catcher in the Rye). Maybe I should just read it again (I know it's still sitting on my bookshelf) but I can say it failed to make quite the impression on me that I've heard other people talking about it with.

    I guess I fail to see the societal "revelations" that you are describing. As far as corruption goes, there is corruption within a strip club, which is not any sort of revelation to anyone, and I guess that there is a small ammount of corruption within the police department, but onlyin the sense that the seargant is shown to be biased against a particular officer of his, but still wants the law upheld, etc.



    In fact, throughout the book I felt that there was a lot of fighting against corruption. The rioting factory workers ceased their riot when it was made clear that their enemy was not as they had imagined him. The police seagant apologized to the officer who he had been mistreating after realizing that the officer was extremely devoted to the cause of law. Burma Jones, who had been outcast and oppressed by society, did his best to continue to follow the rules, and he did eventually get his revenge, but only withing the guidlines of the rules themselves.



    There is a bit of criticism of the race situation within the book, but keeping in mind the period when it was written, it is neither a revelation or an exageration, it is more simply pointing out an issue that the author seemed to have with the society around him.

    Evander on
  • EvanderEvander Disappointed Father Registered User regular
    edited June 2007
    Overall, I enjoyed it quite a bit - probably because I've met quite a few people like Ignatius. They're more pervasive than you might think. Especially on the net. :|

    You know, I don't think I've ever met some one who I would actually say is like Ignatius.

    Rather, I've met people who embody certain aspects of him. Ignatius himself seems to be a collection and exageration of a slew of negative attributes, and it seems easy to find people who can be related as facets of Ignatius, but the idea of some one being entirely Ignatius, well, it's honestly hard for me to imagine that person actually existing.

    Ignatius himself seems like a fantasy character to me. There is definitely value in his characterization, but I don't think he is meant to be directly reflective of an actualy individual entirely.



    Also, you mentioned that the book shows Ignatius ruining things around him. What do you think of my earlier comments that Ignatius' ruining of things ultimately seems to set them up for improvement. By the end of the story
    His mother is poised to remarry, Mr. Levy is prepared to revamp his entire business in a way that actually makes him happy, Burma Jones has gotten his revenge and is about to recieve a recognition and a job, Ms. Trixie has finally been retired and given her Easter ham, Vancuso has disrupted a pornography ring and taken his place back on the force, and probably a few other things
    all, arguably, thanks to Ignatius' actions.

    That's not to say that everything he touches turns to gold, just that out of the ruins that he leaves in his wake, better characters than he tend to find ways to improve themselves.

    Evander on
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