Living Hell - Volume #3, Issue #4


July 9, 2003

Special 'Confederacy of Dunces' Edition!


  o The Quote
  o The Novel
  o The Character
  o Encyclopedia Ignatiusia
  o Artifacts
  o Analysis
  o Indeed

The Quote

"When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by
 this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him"
 - Jonathan Swift

The Novel

What, you've never read it?  Enter John Kennedy Toole, aspiring nov-
elist, dead at age 32 after committing suicide with car exhaust and
a garden hose.  That was 1969, some years after his manuscript was
buzzed-about but ultimately rejected by Simon and Shuster.  Born in
New Orleans, he received a master's degree at Columbia University
and subsequently spent a year as assistant professor of English at
the U of Southwestern L.  Next was New York, for a teaching position
at Hunter College.  He also pursued a doctorate back at Columbia un-
til being drafted by the Army in 1961.  After his military service--
with two years in Puerto Rico teaching English to Spanish-speaking
recruits-- he returned to New Orleans, to live with his parents and
begin teaching at Dominican College.  He wrote, hung with musicians
in the Quarter, and, at least once, helped one of them sell tamales
from a cart.  He also briefly worked in a men's clothing factory.
After losing hope of being published, Toole began drinking heavily,
started taking medication for headaches, stopped teaching at Domini-
can and stopped attending doctoral classes at Tulane.  He dirt-nap-
ped on March 26, 1969.  After his death, Toole's mother took the
challenge of getting his novel published.  In 1976, she insisted au-
thor Walker Percy read the manuscript.  He passed, but Thelma Toole
was persistent.  Finally, standing in his office, Mrs. Toole handed
Mr. Percy a "badly smeared, scarcely readable carbon."  The rest is
history.  Published in 1980 with a forward by Percy, "A Confederacy
of Dunces" won Toole a posthumous Pulitzer Prize for fiction and has
more than 1.5 million copies in 18 languages.  Read it.

The Character

"A green hunting cap squeezed the top of the fleshy balloon of a
 head. The green earflaps, full of large ears and uncut hair and the
 fine bristles that grew in the ears themselves, stuck out on either
 side like turn signals indicating two directions at once.  Full,
 pursed lips protruded beneath the bushy black moustache and, at
 their corners, sank into little folds filled with disapproval and
 potato chip crumbs.  In the shadow under the green visor of the cap
 Ignatius J. Reilly's supercilious blue and yellow eyes looked down
 upon the other people waiting under the clock at the D.H. Holmes
 department store, studying the crowd of people for signs of bad
 taste in dress. Several of the outfits, Ignatius noticed, were new
 enough and expensive enough to be properly considered offenses a-
 gainst taste and decency. Possession of anything new or expensive
 only reflected a person's lack of theology and geometry; it could
 even cast doubts upon one's soul."

 - Opening paragraph

Encyclopedia Ignatiusia

Addison - "Nature has sometimes made a fool; but a coxcomb is always
of man's own making."

Almond - Flavor of Dr. Nut.

Annie, Miss - Next-door neighbor always screaming about Ignatius
making noise.

Attack! - Battle cry of failed workplace revolt.

Battaglia, Santa - Mancuso's aunt.

Belching - Popular Reilly pastime.

Big Chief Tablet - Writing surface and bedroom floor covering.

"Blood on Their Hands: The Crime of it All, A study of some selected
abuses in sixteenth century Europe" - Monograph by Ignatius J. Reil-
ly, 2 pages, 1950, written in pencil.

Board, The - Motorized exercising board of Mrs. Levy's.

Board of Health Complaint - Consequence of trying to trap cat in bun
compartment of hot-dog cart.

Boethius - Roman philosopher and mathematician.

Bowling - Group activity of Mrs. Reilly, Mancuso, and Santa.

Boys' Camp - Site of disastrous one-day stay at age eleven.

Bun Warmer - Used to conceal contraband in hot-dog cart.

Canal Street - Main thoroughfare of French Quarter.

Charity - Psychiatric hospital.

Charles Laughton in Drag as the Queen of the Gypsies - Ignatius in
pirate attire as described by Dorian.  See also:  Betty Davis with

Chinese Puzzle - Hot dog cart as described by Ignatius.

Cockatoo - Pet and personal stripping assistant to Darlene.

Coconut - Good roughage.

Communiss - Communist.

"Consolidation of Philosophy, The" - Greatest work of Boethius, an
investigation of destiny of free will written while awaiting execu-
tion for false charge of treason.

Constantinople Street - Address of Reilly home.

Clyde, Mr. - Ignatius' supervisor at Paradise Vendors Incorporated.

"Crusade for Moorish Dignity" - Subtitle of banner used during fail-
ed workplace revolt.

Cutlass, Earring, and Red Sateen Scarf - Props used to attract cus-
tomers to hot-dog cart.

Darlene - Dancer and aspiring stripper at the Night of Joy.

Darryl, Your Working Boy - Ignatius alias (journal only).

Department of Research and Reference, I. J. Reilly, Custodian - Wide
cardboard sign (with bold blue Gothic lettering) tacked up at Levy

D.H. Holmes - Retail establishment where novel opens.

Dr. Nut - Favored beverage of Ignatius.

Fifteen Dollars - (a.) Amount paid to Mrs. Reilly for her hat.  (b.)
Price of large, elegant, limited edition of English translation of
"The Consolidation of Philosophy."

Fleur-de-lis - (noun) An iris, especially a white-flowered form of
Iris germanica.

Fortuna - Roman goddess of fortune and good luck.

Forty Dollars - Cost of cab ride from Baton Rouge to New Orleans.

French Quarter - Section of New Orleans where Ignatius hawks hot

Gary, Your Militant Working Boy - Ignatius alias #2.

George - School-aged courier for Lana's illicit activities.

Gloria - Levy Pants employee immediately dismissed upon Ignatius'

Gonzalez, Mr. - Ignatius' supervisor at Levy Pants.

Greene, Dorian - Homosexual enlisted by Ignatius for failed forma-
tion of political party.

Green Hunting Cap - Guards Reilly scalp.

Greyhound Scenicruiser - Frightening form of transportation.

Hands - Sensitive part of Reilly anatomy.  See also: Rash.

Harlett O'Hara, the Virgin-ny Belle - Stage name of Darlene.

Homosexual Tendencies - Linked with paranoia by Freud, reminds M.

Hroswitha - Celebrated nun-poetess of tenth century.

Hung by Underdeveloped Testicles - Fate of Dr. Talc as envisioned by

Industrial Canal and River - Address of Levy Pants.

"Is Your Neighbor Really an American?" - Pamphlet slipped under bed-
room door by Ignatius' mother.

Jones, Burma - Vagrant forced into employment at the Night of Joy.

"Journal of the Working Boy, The" - Ignatius' personal account of

Kurtz - Character in Joseph Conrad novel "Heart of Darkness."

Ladies Auxiliary - Frieda, Betty, and Liz.  See also: Savage Attack-

Lance, Your Besieged Working Boy - Ignatius alias #3.

Lee, Lana - Owner of Night of Joy.

Levy, Gus - Owner of Levy Pants.

Levy Pants - Ailing clothing manufacturer where Ignatius gains and
later loses employment.

"Life" - Magazine subscribed to be Darlene for purposes of self-im-

Lumber Jacket - Beloved, coffee-stained clothing item stolen by lu-
natic in Baton Rogue.

Lute - Stringed instrument shaped like a pear sliced lengthwise with
fretted fingerboard neck.

Macaulay - "A great writer is the friend and benefactor of his read-

Mancuso, Angelo - Hapless patrolman charged with wandering the Quar-
ter wearing silly costumes.

Mancuso Disguises - Ballet tights and yellow sweater, baseball cap
and Santa suite, beret and goatee, monocle and beard, sombrero, t-
shirt and Bermuda shorts (red beard optional).

"Mechanized Negro Slavery" - Ignatius' description of factory condi-
tions at Levy Pants.

"Member of Particularly Large Stallion" - Object of impalement as
imagined by Ignatius.

Mensch - (noun) Person having admirable characteristics.

Mickey Mouse Wristwatch - Timekeeping device worn by Ignatius.

Milton - "A good book is the precious life-blood of a master-spirit,
embalmed and treasured up on purpose for a life beyond."

Minkoff, Myrna - (a.) Loud, offensive maiden from the Bronx. (b.)
Long-distance girlfriend and former classmate of Ignatius.

Mississippi as Father-God-Moses-Daddy-Phallus-Pops - False motif,
says Ignatius.

Moustache - Olfactory filtering slash food particle collection de-

"Mr. I. Abelman, Mongoloid, Esq." - Opening of letter to Abelman's
Dry Goods.

Muffler - Guards Reilly throat.  Can also be used as a cummerbund,
sash, cloak, pair of kilts, sling for broken arm, and kerchief.

New Orleans - City famous for its gamblers, prostitutes, exhibition-
ists, anti-Christs, alcoholics, sodomoites, drug addicts, fetish-
ists, onanists, pornographers, frauds, jades, litterbugs, and lesbi-

New York - City where Myrna lives.

Night of Joy - Drinking establishment of questionable repute.

150 at the Hibernia Bank - Total amount of Reilly savings.

$1,020 - Estimated amount of repairs to building struck with 1946

Old, Well-Used Cadillac Ambulance - Sign that Charity Hospital un-
derestimated Ignatius.

Palermo, Mr. - Foreman of Levy Pants.

Paradise Gas - Weiner-induced releases.

Paradise Vendors, Incorporated - Hot-dog proprietorship where Igna-
tius gains and later loses employment.

Perversion - Canned food, for one.

Pink - Color of magnificent Reilly tongue.

Plato - "Books are immortal sons defying their sires."

Plymouth, 1946 - Frightening form of transportation (local only).

Po-lice - Police.

Popcorn Bags - Used to scare children in movie theaters.

Poydras Street - Address of Paradise Vendors.

Prytania - Darkened room where latest affronts to taste and decency
are reviewed.  See also: RKO Orpheum.

Quarter, The - The French Quarter.

"Red Heat" - Clark Gable and Jean Harlow movie that preceded concep-
tion of Ignatius.

Reilly, Ignatius Jacques - Central character of novel.

Reilly, Irene - Mother and caretaker of Ignatius.

Rex - Deceased canine companion of Ignatius and occasional masturba-
tory image.

Rita - Mancuso's wife.

Robichaux, Clyde - Older gentleman caller of Mrs. Reilly.

Rubber Glove - Masturbation aid.

Rural Rednecks - Individuals who toss bombs at buses.

"Sex in Politics: Erotic Library as a Weapon Against Reactionaries"
- Admission $1.00 or sign M. Minkoff's petition aggressively demand-
ing more and better sex for all (and a crash program for minorities)

Sexual Repression - What ails Ignatius, or so says Myrna.

Shirley Temple Mug -

Six Paragraphs - Average monthly written output of Ignatius.

$60 / Week - Ignatius' salary at Levy Pants.

Smithfield Hams - Size of Ignatius' thighs.

Smoke, Cloud of - Localized atmospheric occurrence accompanying

Sodomites - Homosexuals.

Stomach - Reilly anatomy prone to bloating.

St. Martin de Porres - Patron saint of mulattoes.

Sunglasses - Worn at all times (Jones only).

Supercilious - (adjective) Feeling or showing haughty disdain.

Susan and Sandra - Levy daughters.

Tab, Your Pacifist Working Boy - Ignatius alias #4.

Talc, Dr. - Former teacher of Ignatius.

Teeth - Gift of Mrs. Levy to Miss Trixie.

Theology and Geometry - Important indicators.

$30, Less Than - Average weekly pay of workers at Levy Pants.

Trash Can - Ignatius' filing system at Levy Pants.

Timmy - Sailor-dressing acquaintance of Dorian.

Trixie, Miss - Senile secretary at Levy Pants.  See also: Easter

Trollop - (noun) A woman who engages in sexual intercourse for

Tweed Trousers, Voluminous - Durable attire that permits unusually
free locomotion.

Twelve Inches (12) of Paradise - Crayon sign taped to prow of hot-
dog cart.

Two Weeks - Length of Ignatius' employment at New Orleans Public Li-

Unpublished Magazine Articles - "Abstinence, the Safest Method of
Birth Control," "Boethius Observed," "The Challenge of Water Safe-
ty," "Children, Hope of the World," "The Danger of Eight-Cylinder
Automobiles," "The Death of Rex," "In Defense of Hroswitha: To Those
Who Say She Did Not Exist," and "New Orleans, City of Romance and

"Up From Sloth" - Ignatius' personal account of employment (alter-
nate title).

Van Camp's Pork and Beans - Printing on cardboard covering rear win-
dow of 1946 Plymouth.

Valve - Sensitive part of Reilly anatomy.  See also: Closed.

Venus Medalist - Preferred brand of pencil slash ear probe.

Whoa! - Favorite exclamation of Jones.  See also: Hey!

Wine Cakes - Small pastries made with wine.

Withered - Appearance of a donut after the jelly has been sucked

Yogi Bear - Favored television character of Ignatius.

Zalatimo, Mr. - Ignatius' extremely tall replacement at Levy Pants.

Zorro - Ignatius alias used in college (letters to professors only).






"These are all of my notes and jottings.
 We must never let them fall into the
 hands of my mother.  She may make a
 fortune from them.  It would be
 too ironic."
               - Closing scene

Copyright 2003 by Michael J. Legeros



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