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Gentle comedy from a bygone age
on 8 February 2005
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.