Literature Study GuidesA Confederacy Of Dunces

A Confederacy of Dunces | Study Guide

John Kennedy Toole

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Course Hero. "A Confederacy of Dunces Study Guide." Course Hero. 11 Dec. 2017. Web. 26 June 2022. <>.

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Course Hero. "A Confederacy of Dunces Study Guide." December 11, 2017. Accessed June 26, 2022.


Course Hero, "A Confederacy of Dunces Study Guide," December 11, 2017, accessed June 26, 2022,


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John Kennedy Toole

Year Published





Fiction, Satire

Perspective and Narrator

A Confederacy of Dunces is told from the third-person point of view, interspersed with first-person journal entries written by the main character.


A Confederacy of Dunces is told in the past tense.

About the Title

The title, A Confederacy of Dunces, comes from an essay by Anglo-Irish writer Jonathan Swift called "Thoughts on Various Subjects, Moral and Diverting" (1706). Swift comments that "when a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him." Of course, it is impossible to read a novel by a Southern writer without associating confederacy with the 11 Confederate states that seceded from the Union before the Civil War (1861–65). Thus, the connotation of the word is more than simply negative. It implies that the South as a whole is in an alliance of stupidity aimed at illicit ends.


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