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a Confederacy of Dunces

Hi, I bought a new book yesterday. I hesitated just because I didn't even know 'confederacy' and 'dunces', but with my smartphone, it's ok now :) . I'll be able to read it on the beach and keep you aware of the topic. At first sight, it's the life of a community in New-Orleans in the years 1960 (I wasn't born yet, :( ). It is said it 's funny but I've seen the writer committed suicide because nobody wanted to publish it :( .

28 comments - page 2

  • Revised comment:

    I think the life of the author is key to understand the background of the plot in the novel. It has many similarities and Toole took a lot of inspirations from real people he knew.

    Toole himself was kind of a loner, a maverick, looking for his place in life, always with a strong longing for writing - but he also had to earn a living. The main male character seems to be partly a reflection of himself.
  • I'd like the whole novel. The caracters, of course, the "heroe" and his mother, the story, the style and the humour, the sharp look the author gets about the world and the people in general.
    It's possible to appreciate the book without knowing anathyng about Toole's life. If a novel is the produce of its writer, it's also an independant piece wich has its own life. The pleasure of reading is independant from the interpretation you can make refering to the author and his life. Reading pleasure exists alone.
    Another writer who had the same kind of strange life with his mother, claustrated in a room, but he knew a huge success alive, is William Irish alias Cornwell Woolrich.
  • OK, thanks, I've seen 'The Bride Wore Black'. Are Woolrich's novels good ones ?
  • From Euridice:
    It's possible to appreciate the book without knowing anything about Toole's life. If a novel is the produce of its writer, it's also an independant piece wich has its own life. The pleasure of reading is independant from the interpretation you can make refering to the author and his life. Reading pleasure exists alone.


    Of course, reading pleasure can exist on its own, without knowing any backstory and genesis. Nobody denies that. Of course, you can appreciate reading the book with his own life. That's what it is supposed to in the first place. You can listen to a piece of classical music and relish it without knowing anything about it.

    But interpretation can also be very interesting and exciting. And knowing the models behind the figures in a piece can help tremdendously to interpret the piece - and can even add to the relish of it.

    For example, to understand why Mozart incorporated the tenets of the 'free thinkers' in his opera 'The Magic Flute' is very interesting. He took them from his own biography, as a member of their secret meetings in Vienna. The aparition of the 'resurrected Commendatore' in 'Don Giovanni' can be more enthralling when one knows it was his own father figure he was afraid of.

    Knowing the 'why' can only add to the pleasure. :)
  • To Whacky
    Yes, interpretation is another kind of pleasure. It's not only an esthetic and artistic pleasure, wich is really important and for me the first one, but a type of intellectual exercice like litterary critiscism, in the meanning of litterary analysis for instance. Of course, an author writes with his own experience of the world, and his life iinspires his work. When you know the semiotic work made by Umberto Eco, and when you have read his semiotic books, you appreciate in another way his novels like "le pendule de Foucault" or "le nom de la rose", because these books represent a pure appication of his semiotic theories. But a lot of people like these novels without any notion of semiotic. For one reason: the books are good. In this case, knowing semiotic is a plus, a plus which makes reading funnier.
    It's the same thing for painting. "Guernica" by Picasso is a masterpiece, very strong. The same thing for "los horrores de la guierra" by Goya, wich are awfull and absolutely frighhtening. When you see these pictures, they strike you, even if you don't know to what they refer. To know the first one refers to the spannish civil war, and the seond one, to the atrocities made by the army of Napoleon, that Goya had seen and lost his reason after that, is also an interresting plus.
  • To Sophie
    William Irish novels are excellent. It's very good suspense stories. He also wrote short stories.
    "The Bride wore black" is a good movie, made by Truffault, and a good novel too. Truffauld has made another adaptation of Irish: "Mississipi siren". There were diferent movies inspired by his novels and short stories like "Row window" by Hitchkock.
    The novel I prefer is "Black alibi" which is spending in a little town in Mexico: a jaguar escaped from a circus and vanished. Then regulary in the morning mutilated girls corpses are founded.... The suspens is huge.
    I liked too: "Black rendez-vous", "Lady Phantom", "Concerto for the strangler", great suspens too.
  • To Euridice:
    Yes – I see we agree on this basically. But I would go one step further. Having a knowledge about the facts behind any piece of art can be crucial not to go into the wrong direction, based one's ignorance (=lack of knowledge), possible misconceptions and misinterpretations, of one's own wishes, agendas and hubris when enjoying 'only' the aesthetics of art.

    One might be enthralled and raptured by listening to Richard Wagner. But we have to be extremely careful. In some individuals it has brought about the urge to invade Poland ;)
  • I think I've got to go and :- Wiki again before I try to answer to Whacky ;)
  • LOL! I remember the movie "Manhattan Mysterious Murder" when Woody Allen said to Diane Keaton after leaving New-York opera "When I heard Wagner, I want to invade Poland" (I don't remenber the exact wordds but the meaning is here). It's a very funny phrase!
    And Richard Wagner is a good exemple of surinterpatration and misunderstanding. At the light of the 20th century we analyse wagner opera; but it's a mistake because wwe aren't in the 19th context, the moment where "Der Ring" for instance was crreated. We can say "it's about German mythology", that a fact. Bur after... If the nazism used Wagner operas to produce a nazi culture, was Wagner a nazi? People say "yes", some other say "no".
    I like Wagner, and I don't want to refer him to nazism, because he created before Hitler birth. I just like the opera, the music and the lyrics.
    I think that for litterature and music, misconceptions and misinterpretations don't really matter of the reader or the listenner, if the aesthetic pleasure is here, because it's a leasure, not an universitary work. So, if there are mistakes... And we can't be exactly sure of the intentions of the writer, because a novel is so complexe... Did the author whish to mean this thing or another one?
    But that's more interristing, and easier, to know the reference in the case of painting. To take again the example of "Guernica", that's a plus to know Guernica is a name of a spanish village where population was killed during the civil war.
  • Yes ;) I remember it now, it's a funny phrase, but I've a Polish friend. Poland's invasions, that is not much fun fo her because she thinks that through ages, with Austrians, Prussians and Russians Poland has always paid the bill :(.

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