First edition is NOT stated. It should have matching dates of 1980 on the title page and the copyright page. The Copyright page should have no references to a second, third, or other printings. First issue of the dust jacket has Walker Percy's blurb on the rear with no other blurbs.
John Kennedy Toole wrote the book in the 1960's. He committed suicide in 1969 without seeing the book published. His mother went to many publishers in an attempt to have the book published. She finally got Walker Percy to read the manuscript, and Percy convinced the Louisiana State University press to publish it in 1980. Only 2,500 copies of the first printing were produced.
A Confederacy of Dunces won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.
Picture of the 1980 first edition dust jacket for A Confederacy of Dunces.
Picture of the first edition copyright page for A Confederacy of Dunces.
Picture of dust jacket where original $12.95 price is found for A Confederacy of Dunces.
First issue of the dust jacket has Walker Percy's blurb about the uniqueness of the book on the rear panel. Later issue jackets have a Chicago Sun-Times blurb.
Picture of the first edition Louisiana State University Press boards for A Confederacy of Dunces.
Picture of the back dust jacket flap for the first edition of A Confederacy of Dunces.
Picture of the first edition title page for A Confederacy of Dunces.
This is a memo from the publisher, Louisiana State University Press, that came with many first printings. It gives background on how this small university text book publisher stumbled across an american classic. The section shown here talks about their early success with the book - "At this point, mid-April 1980, the situation stands like this: our initial printing of 2,500 copies, which is what we have done of our earlier novels, has had to be supplemented by a second printing of 5,000, six weeks before publication. Kirkus and Publishers Weekly have given the book rave reviews, brandishing terms like 'genius,' 'classic,' 'once-in-a-blue-moon first novel.'"... "What will come of all this we obviously don't know at this point, but even if nothing else happens the book will be a very considerable success, and we are extremely pleased to have been partly responsible for its publication."
The back of the first issue dust jacket (like the one on the left) has a single blurb, by Walker Percy. Later issue jackets (like the one on the right) have several blurbs - a review by the Chicago Sun-Times on the top, and reviews by Publishers Weekly, Kirkus Reviews, and Booklist below an abbreviated Walker Percy quote.
Disclaimer: This website is intended to help guide you and give you insight into what to look for when identifying first editions. The information is compiled from the experience of reputable collectors and dealers in the industry. Gathering and updating information about these books is more an art than a science, and new identication criteria and points of issue are sometimes discovered that may contradict currently accepted identification points. This means that the information presented here may not always be 100% accurate.