Feast of fools : the carnivalesque in John Kennedy Toole's A confederacy of dunces


  • Julija Potrč




American literature, translation, literary translation, vernacular, translation in Slovenian, carnival, humour


Despite the fact that the action in John Kennedy Toole's novel A Confederacy of Dunces has often been compared to a carnival, there is little that the maincharacter, Ignatius Reilly, has in common with those participating in a true medieval carnival as described by Mikhail Bakhtin in Rabelais and His World. Ignatius tries to assert his superiority over others both with his speech and behavior, violating the principal rule of carnivalesque equality, and is aggressively opposed to sexuality, which was a deeply positive concept in the carnival culture, symbolizing fertility, growth, and new birth. A greatsource of humor in the novel is the difference between the highly educated speech used by Ignatius and the vernacular spoken by other characters. This difference was successfully transposed into Slovene by translator Nuša Rozman, who managed to capture the differences between social classes by using various degrees of colloquialisms and slang expressions, while opting to nevertheless transcribe the characters' speech in a way that is grammatically correct; a practice that has long been present in both original and translated Slovene literature, which highlights the fact that despite an increase in the number of works written in the vernacular over the past years, a universal standard on how to transcribe spoken Slovene has yet to be established.


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How to Cite

Potrč, J. (2010). Feast of fools : the carnivalesque in John Kennedy Toole’s A confederacy of dunces. Acta Neophilologica, 43(1-2), 83–92. https://doi.org/10.4312/an.43.1-2.83-92