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Confederacy of Dunces Cover Redesign

"When I first saw the cover of this paperback in a Georgetown, DC, bookshop a few years ago, I was hesitant to buy it. Simply put, the cover is goofy, and does not do this masterpiece any justice. I am so grateful that I ignored my initial instinct"--from an Amazon.com review

I first read Confederacy of Dunces in high school. Itwas one of the first times I really got what people meant when they said "you can't judge a book by its cover". The standard U.S. paperback cover has been the same werid cartoon of Ignatius J. Reilly wearing a stripper's cockatoo as a hat hadn't prepared me for the story I'd actually gotten. So it's going to be fun to go back in, re-read it with fresh eyes and figure out how to tell 400 pages of story in one 135x216mm rectangle.

About the book

I love the story behind the publication of thiss book almost as much as I love the story itself. The novel wasn't published until 11 years after the author's suicide at age 31. His mother found the manuscript in his belongings after his death, and through sheer force of will and tenacity (and the help of author Walker Percy) it was published by LSU Press in 1980. The author, John Kennedy Toole was awarded a posthumous Pulitzer in 1981.

The book itslef tells the story of Ignatius J. Reilly, an overeducated, emotinally stunted man living with his mother in New Orleans. When they wreck their car, Ignatius is forced to leave the comfort of his head and home and get a (gasp) job. He has little patience for eccentricities other than his own, which becomes increasingly evident as he gets involved in a series of zany adventures including organizing a union in a pants factory, engaging in a sparring match via the U.S. Postal Service with his college lover, that minx Myrna Minkoff, or running afoul of an undercover officer looking to bust some deviants, a trio of angry lesbians, his mother's communist-obsessed beau and a strip club owner who most definitely does not have a heart of gold. It is one of the strangest and most endearing cast of eccentrics assembled outside of a John Waters movie. 

About the Covers

 

First Edition Cover

This is the cover of the first edition printed by LSU Press. It is the first of many to depict Ignacius J. Reilly in all of his earflapped, cutlass-waving glory.




U.S. Paperback cover

This is the cover of the book I had as a kid. It's another depiction of Ignacius with his hat, muffler, and comfortable flannel shirt with the addition of a (rather frightening-looking) cockatiel.

1987 Evergreen Trade Paperback

A more abstract version of Ignacius J. Reilly and his hot dog. My main nitpick is the hat is green in the book and here it's red. Details matter when it's one of the main iconic elements of the story. Otherwise, I really love this version.

2006 Penguin Paperback

There's a great piece on the Wikipedia page called Ignatius at the Movies that explains this cover design concept.

Penguin UK 2000 Paperback

U.S. Hardcover

Polish Book Cover Contest

DeviantArt project

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