Jun 20, 2012 6:28 PM by Ian Auzenne
The University of Louisiana has purchased John Kennedy Toole memorabilia in a Sotheby's New York auction last week. Among the items in the collection are a rare letter penned by Toole to longtime UL professors Pat and Milton Rickels , a first edition of Toole's novel A CONFEDERACY OF DUNCES, and a copy of a 1978 issue of the NEW ORLEANS REVIEW that contains the first published excerpt of said novel. Toole wrote CONFEDERACY, the tale of hot dog vendor Ignatius J. Reilly, in 1963. The novel would go unpublished until 1980--11 years after Toole committed suicide. The novel would go on to win the 1981 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.
Toole's connection to the University of Louisiana dates back over 50 years. Toole was an associate professor in the then-Southwestern Louisiana Institute's English Department from 1959 until 1960. Toole kept in touch with the Rickels after he left the college and become great friends with the family. In fact, the collection was compiled by Pat Rickels before her death in 2009. Rickels bequeathed the collection to a friend. That friend, who remains anonymous, put the collection up for auction.
UL officials say several donors have expressed interest in contributing to preserve the collection. The university plans to put the materials on display next spring.
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