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The 21/2 Pillars of Wisdom Paperback – 11 Nov 2004


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Frequently Bought Together

The 21/2 Pillars of Wisdom + Unusual Uses For Olive Oil (von Igelfeld Entertainments) + Sunshine on Scotland Street (44 Scotland Street)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Abacus (11 Nov. 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0349118507
  • ISBN-13: 978-0349118505
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 2.6 x 19.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 64,553 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Alexander McCall Smith is one of the world's most prolific and most popular authors. His career has been a varied one: for many years he was a professor of Medical Law and worked in universities in the United Kingdom and abroad. Then, after the publication of his highly successful 'No 1 Ladies' Detective Agency' series, which has sold over twenty million copies, he devoted his time to the writing of fiction and has seen his various series of books translated into over forty-six languages and become bestsellers through the world. These include the Scotland Street novels, first published as a serial novel in The Scotsman, the Isabel Dalhousie novels, the Von Igelfeld series, and the Corduroy Mansions series, novels which started life as a delightful (but challenging to write) cross-media serial, written on the website of the Telegraph Media Group. This series won two major cross-media awards - Association of Online Publishers Digital Publishing Award 2009 for a Cross Media Project and the New Media Age award.

In addition to these series, Alexander writes stand-alone books. 2014 sees publication of three new novels which fall into this area: 'The Forever Girl'; 'Fatty O'Leary's Dinner Party'; and 'Emma' - a reworking of the classic Jane Austen novel. This year there will also be a stunning book on Edinburgh, 'A Work of Beauty: Alexander McCall Smith's Edinburgh'. Earlier stand alone novels include 'La's Orchestra Saves the World' and 'Trains and Lovers: A Hearts Journey'.

Alexander is also the author of collections of short stories, academic works, and over thirty books for children. He has received numerous awards for his writing, including the British Book Awards Author of the Year Award in 2004 and a CBE for service to literature in 2007. He holds honorary doctorates from nine universities in Europe and North America. In March of 2011 he received an award from the President of Botswana for his services through literature to that country.
Alexander McCall Smith lives in Edinburgh. He is married to a doctor and has two daughters.

Product Description

Review

Very amusing. (MAIL ON SUNDAY)

Professor Moritz-Maria von Igelfield is a hilarious creation. His bufoonish adventures- whether he's amputating legs of daschunds or assuming dictatorship of South American states- are packed full of wit. (DAILY EXPRESS)

Book Description

The three hilarious von Igelfeld novels - Portuguese Irregular Verbs, Finer Points of Sausage Dogs and The Villa of Reduced Circumstances - available for the first time in one volume.

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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

41 of 41 people found the following review helpful By P. R. Rustage on 8 Feb. 2005
Format: Paperback
Although this book is set in roughly contemporary times the style and character of the work harks back to a gentler age. The comedy is subtle and restrained rather than laugh-out-loud, the characters are the aimiable types one could find in Wodehouse or Jerome. In fact, had this been written 50 years ago it would have been a prime candidate for filming as an "Ealing comedy".
The three novellas collected in this volume chart the progress of von Igelfeld through a series of unlikely escapades in his home town of Regensberg, Switzerland, Venice, Ireland, England and finally South America. In each case his insouciant academic view of the world is never displaced by the real life events taking place around him. Even being caught up in a revolution in Colombia isnt enough to stop him worrying whether a rival professor is using his desk back at the University.
This is bathos at its best, each of the characters blissfully unaware of the comedy they are in. No wisecracks or one-liners, no slapstic or satire - just slghtly foolish people trying hard not to be.
The book is a real treat. Refeshing and funny.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Huck Flynn VINE VOICE on 25 May 2006
Format: Paperback
While this comic trilogy is unlikely to raise belly laughs it is a lovely picaresque exercise in social comedy and mild farce featuring the rather woolly minded and gauche Professor von Iglefeld. McCall Smith's deadpan style enable us to accept the Prof's amazing misguided adventures where he gets into all kind of Meldrew-like scrapes with south-american revolutionaries, irish farmers, acadmic rivals and colleagues. As previous reviewers have mentioned, this is understated satire and gentle bathos, more akin to bygone times eg Ealing Films - there's no bad language or graphic violence and minimal innuendo. It's also quite different from his Detective Agency / 44 Scotland Street stuff. I hope Prof Iglefeld has many more adventures.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By AK TOP 500 REVIEWER on 4 Nov. 2009
Format: Paperback
This book is very different and in no way connected to the No.1 Ladies Detective Agency.

It is a separate book, not connected to any of the author's previous series and it is simply brilliant. It is very apt at describing the slightly surreal world of German academia and the brief detour into Latin America seems only fitting in this context.

Everything from the high levels of hierarchical prestige and an insistence on it - especially as the stakes, at the end of the day, are so low - to the description of scientific conferences, is spot on. Perhaps written for a dying generation - one would hope that the current breed of aspiring professors will grow to be a bit more worldly - but the sublime understanding of the subject matter, together with an uncanny ability to describe it so humorously are in my opinion fairly unique.

Anyone, who has gone through the process of completing a PhD, especially in the German speaking world, will find hours of hillarity here, and it will stay with the reader for a long time to come.
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31 of 35 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 29 Mar. 2005
Format: Paperback
I received this book for Christmas and hadn't noticed it before.
Having previously read three of the No1LD series, and becoming a bit tired of the characters, I approached this with caution. How could this be any good when all the marketing millions were being diverted to Precious and Botswana? THIS TRILOGY IS BETTER. This deserves to be in the limelight - it is the funniest book I've EVER READ - EVER. The tale about the impromptu speech in the second novello was hilarity at it's very best. This has restored my faith in the author and I'm currently resuming my journey through Botswana. Buy it, borrow it, read it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Nicola F (Nic) TOP 500 REVIEWER on 29 Sept. 2010
Format: Paperback
As a recent devotee of the No1 Ladies Detective Agency, I have to admit I was initially a bit wary about reading one of McCall Smith's *other* books... how on earth would I cope without Precious Ramotswe et al? I needn't have worried. By the time I'd read a few pages of this, I was caught up in the slow moving but nonetheless witty adventures of Professor Doctor Moritz-Maria von Igelfeld and his German colleagues, his fellow academics and friends.

Centred around Igelfeld's progressing studies and travels around the globe from Ireland to Columbia, this book contains all three stories of the Igelfeld trilogy: Portuguese Irregular Verbs, The Finer Points of Sausage Dogs and At the Villa of Reduced Circumstances. Whilst I concede that the book is witty in places, the humour is never quite laugh-out-loud; it's more gentle and subtle. If you want slapstick, you won't get it here, but what you will get are wonderfully drawn characters written in that beautiful McCall Smith manner without any crudeness, innuendo or profanity.

I will caution however that it DOES take a while to get into this book which can be a bit dry in places, and if you're expecting it to be anything like the Detective Agency stories then you may be sorely disappointed. As other reviewers have said, this doesn't quite hit the spot in the same way they do; if however, you're looking for a very different book with a focus towards academia and philosophy then this is a worthwhile, memorable enough read.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Big Ben TOP 500 REVIEWER on 4 July 2005
Format: Paperback
.
....although not that enjoyable a read. After greatly enjoying The "Ladies' Detective Agency" books, this came as a bit of a let-down for me. Very different. But my wife liked it!
The protagonist, an unlikeable German academic is totally unable to see his own serious social blunders. Comedy of embarassment, I suppose, but mostly cringe-makng for me.
Somehow, the odd incident does linger in the mind, months later.
By all means read it, a very clever and well written book, but one that may not entertain you in the same way as other books by this excellent author.
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