Saturday, June 1, 2013

Best of John Kennedy Toole Scholarship #1: Patteson and Sauret

Users of my website may be familiar with my Critical Annotated Bibliography of Obscure Scholarship on John Kennedy Toole and A Confederacy of Dunces, wherein I evaluate the quality of Toole scholarship that has not been listed in traditional finding aids such as MLA Bibliography.

In this series, I would like to offer an annotated bibliography, one citation at a time, of the best of the scholarship that is findable via MLA Bibliography. I feel that there is not enough guidance for students of Toole as to which scholarship to read. I will not rank or evaluate my own scholarship, but everything else is fair game.

I will start with the essay that I consider to be, aside from my own work of course, the best. And the winner is:

Citation: Patteson, Richard F., and Thomas Sauret. "The Consolation of Illusion: John Kennedy Toole's A Confederacy of Dunces." Texas Review [ISSN 0885-2685] 4, no. 1-2, (1983): 77-87.

Annotation: Patteson and Sauret delve into Ignatius’s psychological situation (77 and 85-86). They also chart the plot, showing that the action revolves literally around Ignatius (78). They point out (contra Daigrepont and E. Bell) that Ignatius misunderstands Piers Plowman when he refers to it (80). They discuss the humanity of Darlene, Burma, and Angelo (82). They show that Irene matures away from alcohol to use bowling to control her life (83). They explore the mock-epic and picaresque qualities of the text and compare it to Don Quixote and Zorro (84, 89). They discuss the theme of imprisonment (85). Unlike Pat Gardner, they warn the reader not to put too much stock in Ignatius’s final gesture, kissing Myrna’s pigtail (87). Especially interesting is the fact that Kenneth Holditch had obtained a copy of the lecture version of this text and sent it to Thelma Toole. In a letter in the Toole Papers at Tulane dated January 10, 1983, Thelma wrote to Patteson and Sauret, stating, "It is the most engrossing analysis of ‘Confederacy of Dunces’ that I have read, so far" (See Toole Papers at Tulane, Box 9, Folder 10). Thelma was right on the money.