If you're here, you probably know a thing or two about A Confederacy of Dunces and Ignatius J. Reilly. If you don't, please stay, read a bit, and then pick up the book.
A Confederacy of Dunces was written by John Kennedy Toole in the mid- and late-1960's and he committed suicide in 1969, before the book was published. Its tragic that we lost such a talented writer before his genius was even recognized. His mother took the manuscript to Walker Percy, a professor at Loyola University, and asked him for his help in getting it published. Percy had seen plenty of unpublished manuscripts and was frankly skeptical that this one would be any better than the stack of underwhelming novels he had already seen. What Percy found was that the deeper he read, the more he liked it. Percy helped Toole's mother get it published and Confederacy went on to win the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1980.
Confederacy is set in New Orleans and is written in such a way that the city itself becomes one of the characters in it. I have yet to read a book that captures the spirit of New Orleans as fully. Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil did a magnificant job of capturing Savannah, but not even Anne Rice is up to Toole's mettle.
The title of the book comes from a line in an epigraph by Jonathan Swift: "When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him." The main character of Confederacy is Ignatius J. Reilly who truly believes that dunces everywhere are in confederacy against him.
I've gone through Confederacy and noted every location in which Toole mentions. In August 2008, I visited New Orleans and chronicled every location I could find. Where applicable, I tried to give you a little history of the sites, as well as a couple photos. I think I've found every place he mentioned, but if you think I've missed one, please let me know.
Also, I think I've nailed down the exact time in which the book was set.
Read on and take a tour of A Confederacy of Dunces...