Leighton, H. Vernon. Evidence of influences on John Kennedy Toole's "A Confederacy of Dunces," including Geoffrey Chaucer. Version 2.1 (June 2, 2014). Self-published on the Web. Format: PDF.
Printing: To save paper when printing this PDF file, in the Print dialog window in Acrobat Reader under the label "Page Scaling", select from the drop down menu "Multiple pages per sheet." It is formatted to allow two pages per sheet.
Peer Review Status: This paper was rejected by two peer-review journals and has not yet been accepted by such a journal. Instead of publication by a journal, I am building a grass-roots peer-review by seeking the endorsement of scholars and those close to Toole Studies. In the sense that it has been reviewed (and endorsed) by scholars in the field (peers if you will), I argue that it is in a deeper sense peer-reviewed. The paper has been endorsed by:
- W. Kenneth Holditch, Research Professor Emeritus from the University of New Orleans, who stated that "[this] essay is quite impressive, ... and I find little to disagree with or dispute." Holditch has published "Another Kind of Confederacy: John Kennedy Toole." In Literary New Orleans in the Modern World. Edited by Richard S. Kennedy. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State UP, 1998, 102-122.
- Joel Fletcher, a college friend of Toole, who called the paper "excellent" and "an important contribution to the scholarly literature." Fletcher has published Ken and Thelma: The Story of A Confederacy of Dunces. Gretna, LA: Pelican, 2005.
- W. Bedford Clark, professor of English at Texas A & M, who said he read it "with much interest and gained much from it." Clark has published "All Toole's Children: A Reading of A Confederacy of Dunces." Essays in Literature 14, no. 2 (1987): 269-280.
I will list other endorsements for the merit of the paper here as they are made. If you are a Toole scholar and are willing to endorse the paper, either send email to firstname.lastname@example.org , or add a comment to the blog below.
Public Comments: I have established a blog for anyone wishing to make public comments about this paper. It is a moderated blog: comments lacking in substance will not be published.
Abstract: This study uses the evidence held in John Kennedy Toole’s papers located at Tulane University to investigate many literary works and authors who may have been possible influences on his novel A Confederacy of Dunces (Confederacy). Part one is a catalog of evidence about authors, texts, and characters to which Confederacy has been compared, including Boethius, Chaucer, John Lyly, Edmund Spenser, Cervantes, Shakespeare’s Falstaff, John Milton, various authors of picaresque novels, Jonathan Swift, the Romantic Poets, Mark Twain, Herman Melville, Joseph Conrad, T.S. Eliot, various ethnic melee dramas, Walker Percy, J. D. Salinger, and Flannery O’Connor. Part two then analyzes themes common to both Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales and Toole’s Confederacy, such as the use of the grotesque, the dynamics within intimate relationships, and the parody of romance. In Confederacy, Ignatius Reilly is an agent of Fortuna and fulfills a role occupied by the planetary god Saturn in Chaucer’s Knight’s Tale. Some critics have called Toole’s outlook deterministic. This study argues that he was not a determinist, and that his Boethian position on free will was derived indirectly through the influence of Chaucer.
Earlier version: Because scholars have cited version 2.0 of this paper, I will continue to make version 2.0 available. The link below goes to a page of on this website, which then links to the paper at Researchgate. If anyone desires an earlier version, please contact the author.
Evidence of influences on John Kennedy Toole's "A Confederacy of Dunces," including Geoffrey Chaucer. Version 2.0 (July 1, 2011). Self-published on the Web. Format: PDF.
Copyright: This work is copyrighted and has a creative commons license. It can be shared, but it cannot be sold or plagiarized.
Evidence of influences on John Kennedy Toole's "A Confederacy of Dunces" by H. Vernon Leighton is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.