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Portuguese Irregular Verbs (2003)

by Alexander McCall Smith

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,2974410,515 (3.42)100
Von Igelfeld is the world's leading scholar on Portuguese irregular verbs, having written a majestic, nearly 1,200-page book on the subject. As one review says, "There is nothing more to be said on this subject. Nothing." But in other matters, von Igelfeld is not nearly so skilled. Whether haplessly playing tennis against an equally dreadful opponent, or committing his friends to swordfighting duels without their knowledge, von Igelfeld is somewhat naive in the ways of the world. Yet that does not stop him from having a go at life, and the results are always humorous.… (more)
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Showing 1-5 of 43 (next | show all)
Professor von Igelfeld and his fellow academics who study Romance languages get into various scrapes over time and place.

This book is entertaining but slight. It is told in an almost vignette style, reminding me of the children's book series Charlie and Mouse. It even has some illustrations, which in my opinion add basically nothing to the book. (Why do full-grown adults need a black-and-white drawing of a tome to understand what a book is?)

Honestly, I wasn't overly impressed with this book and much prefer McCall Smith's No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series. However, since this book was a quick read and a nice reprieve from the darker titles I tend to read, I decided to keep on with the series. ( )
  sweetiegherkin | Aug 25, 2020 |
I think this short series were among his first books, as he was trying to find his style. It's just a little heavy-handed so that one tires quickly of the joke. NOT a mystery, btw. ( )
  MaryHeleneMele | May 6, 2019 |
I'll never look at professors in quite the same way again after reading this book. In fact, I have to wonder now what stories one could write about all my old professors. As a language nerd I also loved all the untranslated German, French and Italian. I always think Americans miss out when we don't have to learn a bit of these languages to read our novels, so seeing a few non-English words every so often seems like a great thing. ( )
  JBarringer | Dec 30, 2017 |
A solid three stars for this short and modestly amusing book. In a series of loosely related episodes, Professor Dr. Moritz-Maria Von Igelfeld moves from small triumphs to minor defeats and embarrassments and back again. His ponderings, which tend to focus on small professional rivalries, but sometimes wander into the theological and ontological, are both very plausible and mildly repellent. Igelfeld is fussy, often petty, and occasionally vindictive. His small intrigues almost invariably go wrong for him, but still he manages to maintain an impressive and rather endearing self-confidence and optimism. He reminds me very much of Basil Fawlty, from the old BBC series, Fawlty Towers, only with unassailable equanimity replacing poor Basil's helpless fury and despair. Infuriating, obnoxious, and hopelessly prone to the most absurd misfortunes and misunderstandings, you nevertheless find yourself sympathizing with Igelfeld and hoping that things will go well for him. ( )
1 vote meandmybooks | Apr 14, 2017 |
Definitely not what I was expecting.... and not in a good way, either. Having fallen in love with Precious Ramotswe and the Botswana setting of Smith's The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series, I was kind of hoping for more of the same with this first book in his Professor Dr. von Egelfeld Entertainment series. Instead, I found myself reading a collection of loosely connected stories about a rather unlovable character focused on self-importance. Yes, the situations he finds himself in, usually of his own misguided contrivance, have the makings of good reading material - I admit, the battle of wits he engages in with Signora Cossi did have me raising an eyebrow or two! - but overall, this just didn't work for me. One reviewer has commented that this story is in a similar vein with A Diary of a Nobody where the focus of the story is to make much ado about mundane things and events and that may explain why this was a rather sub-par read for me. I really didn't enjoy A Diary of a Nobody when I read it a few years back.

Given that I do own the next two books in the series and in view of the fact that they are slim volumes, I will give book two in the series The Finer Points of Sausage Dogs a go and see if the Professor grows on me. ( )
  lkernagh | Jan 22, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 43 (next | show all)
I am headed to local library to check this one out again. If you like to laugh and have a dry sense of humor you will absolutely relate to this book....and quick note, it's first in a series of three.

The negative reviews on this book astound me. What planet are you on? I take mine dry with a side of umph....
added by tracysbooks | editMy own brain, booknut with sense of humor (Jun 15, 2011)
 
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This is for REINHARD ZIMMERMANN
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Professor Dr Moritz-Maria von Igelfeld often reflected on how fortunate he was to be exactly who he was, and nobody else.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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The 2 1/2 pillars of wisdom includes At the Villa of Reduced Circumstances, The Finer Points of Sausage Dogs and Portuguese Irregular Verbs in 2002. These titles were published separately in 2003.
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Von Igelfeld is the world's leading scholar on Portuguese irregular verbs, having written a majestic, nearly 1,200-page book on the subject. As one review says, "There is nothing more to be said on this subject. Nothing." But in other matters, von Igelfeld is not nearly so skilled. Whether haplessly playing tennis against an equally dreadful opponent, or committing his friends to swordfighting duels without their knowledge, von Igelfeld is somewhat naive in the ways of the world. Yet that does not stop him from having a go at life, and the results are always humorous.

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