O Fortuna!. A new book about “A Confederacy of Dunces” author John Kennedy Toole says that the author of what litterateurs of taste and discernment consider to be the Fifth Gospel based his hero on a real person, or persons:

And it’s worth knowing, for example, that Toole’s father, John, suffered from an unspecified mental illness that involved talking incessantly and walking around the house in his underwear. Or that, while teaching at the Southwestern Louisiana Institute, Toole encountered “a mustached medievalist” named Bobby Byrne, who assigned Boethius’ “Consolation of Philosophy” to every class he taught, loved hot dogs, and — perhaps as a consequence of the latter — suffered tremendously from gas. (“Ill-timed flatulence,” MacLauchlin calls it, leaving the reader to wonder what well-timed flatulence might be.) Presented thus with his lead character, Toole grabbed the gift with both hands, and “Confederacy’s” Ignatius J. Reilly — a bloating Boethian — was born.

BTW, I think anyone who has ever lost his grip at an inopportune moment — while teaching a class, for example — knows what “ill-timed flatulence” is.

After I finish writing my book, I intend to start French classes this fall at LSU. My personal goal is to recover enough French to read my copy of “La Conjuration des imbeciles.” My friend and this blog’s longtime reader Fred Gion gave it to me last time I was in Paris. We shall meet there next week over a Lucky Dog, or Parisian equivalent thereof.

— Gary, votre jeune traivailleur.

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