A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole

“I am really fatigued as my first working day draws to a close. I do not wish to suggest, however, that I am disheartened or depressed or defeated. For the first time in my life I have met the system face to face, fully determined to function within its context as an observer and critic in disguise, so to speak.”

This bitter satire about a slacker in New Orleans is a psychological study of sorts. However, the reader is jaded by repetitive jokes. As a result, a degree of sympathy may develop with regard to the anti-hero. He may suffer from absurd delusions, but it could be that being properly adjusted to the reality of the United States would be a greater deviation from wisdom.

It is always difficult to appreciate how a satire works when its social context has become history. This is because the targets of the humour are no longer with us. Social types alter with cultural evolution.

Nevertheless, the tragic election of Donald Trump has sent the United States back to the social conflicts of decades gone by. As a consequence, some of the stereotypes of the author could seem relevant once again.


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