Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Occasional Series of Ideas for Papers on John Kennedy Toole, Part 8

Falstaff and Ignatius

[This could be a large paper.] In many of the reviews of Confederacy and even in Percy's introduction, Ignatius is described as "falstaffian." In the Toole Papers, there is a college assignment that establishes that Toole was familiar with Falstaff in Shakespeare's Henry IV Part 1 (Evidence of Influences version 2.0, 12-13). Barber's Shakespeare's Festive Comedy (Princeton 1959) investigated the connection between Shakespeare's plays and Saturnalian ritual (see especially pages 205 and 206, which connect Falstaff to Frazer's Golden Bough). From 1900 to 1917, one of the Krewes of New Orleans Carnival season was called The Falstaffians (Perry Young, Mistick Krewe, 1931, p. 265).

Thesis: Investigate the connection between Ignatius and Falstaff, especially at the level of both being a Saturnalian Lord of Misrule. There is no evidence that Toole was familiar with Barber's work, but even if he did not read it, the ideas could have been discussed in Toole's circle. Note in Henry IV Part 2 that Falstaff courting Doll is referred to as Saturn courting Venus (II, iv). Note also that Barber ties this theme to Freudian psychology, and there is evidence in the Toole Papers for his knowledge of Freudian psychology and literary criticism. (To pursue this point, you would have to visit Tulane and study the Toole Papers.) Tie them all to New Orleans Carnival, of course. What are some reasons why the parallel might not be actual influence?