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Originally posted by homeskillet
reply to post by ColoradoJens
sweet. i started this book a few years ago but didnt get to far due to other things ( not that it was a bad book). i need to revisit it since you reminded me. the most interesting part that intrigued me was that it was written by a brilliant loner whos mom had brought attention to his manuscript after he had committed suicide 11 years prior. sad but hey its the fine line between genius and madness.
Perhaps the best way to introduce this novel -- which on my third reading of it astounds me even more than the first -- is to tell of my first encounter with it. While I was teaching at Loyola in 1976 I began to get telephone calls from a lady unknown from me. What she proposed was preposterous. It was not that she had written a couple of chapters of a novel and wanted to get into my class. It was that her son, who was dead, had written an entire novel during the early sixties, a big novel, and she wanted me to read it. Why would I want to do that? I asked her. Because it is a great novel, she said.
Over the years I have become very good at getting out of things I don't want to do. And if ever there was something I didn't want to do, this was surely it: to deal with the mother of a dead novelist and, worst of all, to have to read a manuscript that she said was great, and that, as it turned out, was a badly smeared, scarcely readable carbon. But the lady was persistent, and it somehow came to pass that she stood in my office handing me the hefty manuscript. There was no getting out of it; only one hope remained -- that I could read a few pages and that they would be bad enough for me, in good conscience, to read no farther. Usually I can do just that. Indeed the first paragraph often suffices. My only fear was that this one might not be bad enough, or might be just good enough, so that I would have to keep reading.
In this case I read on. And on. First with the sinking feeling that it was not bad enough to quit, then with a prickle of interest, then a growing excitement, and finally an incredulity: surely it was not possible that it was so good. I shall resist the temptation to say what first made me gape, grin, laugh out loud, shake my head in wonderment. Better let the reader make the discovery on his own.
Here at any rate is 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, lying in his flannel nightshirt, in a back bedroom on Constantinople Street in New Orleans, who between gigantic seizures of flatulence and eructations is filling dozens of Big Chief tablets with invective.
Originally posted by CynicalDrivel
Mom rereads this every year or so. I've read it once, and that was enough.
The title is taken from a saying by Jonathan Swift: "When a true genius appears in the world, you will know him by this sign; that the dunces are all in confederacy against him." Even though Swift died in 1745 and Toole committed suicide in 1981, it's obvious that "the confederacy" is a universal throughout history.
"Then you must begin a reading program immediately so that you may understand the crises of our age," Ignatius said solemnly. "Begin with the late Romans, including Boethius, of course. Then you should dip rather extensively into early Medieval. You may skip the Renaissance and the Enlightenment. That is mostly dangerous propaganda. Now that I think of it, you had better skip the Romantics and the Victorians. For the contemporary period, you should study some selected comic books."
"It smells terrible in here.'
Well, what do you expect? The human body, when confined, produces certain odors which we tend to forget in this age of deodorants and other perversions. Actually, I find the atmosphere of this room rather comforting. Schiller needed the scent of apples rotting in his desk in order to write. I, too, have my needs. You may remember that Mark Twain preferred to lie supinely in bed while composing those rather dated and boring efforts which contemporary scholars try to prove meaningful. Veneration of Mark Twain is one of the roots of our current intellectual stalemate."
"Apparently I lack some particular perversion which today's employer is seeking. "
"I suspect that I am the result of particularly weak conception on the part of my father. His sperm was probably emitted in a rather offhand manner."
"… I avoid that bleak first hour of the working day during which my still sluggish senses and body make ever chore a penance. I find that in arriving later, the work which I do perform is of a much higher quality."
"you can always tell employees of the government by the total vacancy which occupies the space where most other people have faces."
"with the breakdown of the medieval system, the gods of chaos, lunacy, and bad taste gained ascendancy."
Originally posted by Pilot
One of my favorite parts of the book is when he tries to start a strike at Levy Pants...that was pretty awesome.