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Unusual Uses for Olive Oil: A Professor Dr von Igelfeld Entertainment Novel (4) Paperback – January 1, 2013


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Product Details

  • Series: Professor Dr Von Igelfeld Entertainment
  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor (January 1, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307279898
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307279897
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.2 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (105 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #102,779 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

McCall Smith excels at creating comic characters: Bruce, the scented-haired narcissist of the Scotland Street series, for example, or Grace Makutsi, who scored the highest at the Botswana Secretarial College exams, of No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency. McCall Smith’s least well-known series, Portuguese Irregular Verbs, is also filled with comic characters, all academics of a particularly stripe—German philologists who can trace word origins back thousands of years but, many times, cannot parse the simple meaning of what’s going on. The hero (to himself, at least) is Professor Dr. von Igelfeld, whose quest for recognition and whose utter haplessness in dealing with the real world form the comic spine of the novels. In the fourth in the series, von Igelfeld’s greatest rival has been short-listed for an academic prize that von Igelfeld believes should have gone to him. McCall Smith has the same gift that John Mortimer has in making boring conversations hilarious—the atmosphere in the Institute of Romance Philology’s coffee room is very like the one-upmanship and backbiting in Horace Rumpole’s chambers. Academia can be a hoot, and this series proves it. --Connie Fletcher

Review

"Delightfully silly.... [von Igelfeld is a literary Mr. Magoo." --The Washington Post

"Filled with comic characters, all academics of a particularly stripe. . . . McCall Smith has the same gift that John Mortimer has in making boring conversations hilarious—the atmosphere in the Institute of Romance Philology’s coffee room is very like the one-upmanship and backbiting in Horace Rumpole’s chambers. Academia can be a hoot, and this series proves it."
   --Booklist

"Professor von Igelfeld is a comic gem. . . . McCall Smith skewers the pomposity of academic pretension with an irresistible, deadpan insouciance."
    --BlogCritics

Acclaim for the Portuguese Irregular Verbs series

"A comedic jewel... [At the Villa of Reduced Circumstances] attains a level of sublime nonsense reminiscent of Woody Allen's Bananas." --The New York Times

“In the halls of academe, a setting fraught with ego-driven battles for power and prestige [McCall Smith] has rendered yet another one-of-a-kind character: the bumbling but brilliant Dr. Mortiz-Maria von Igelfeld . . . . [a] deftly rendered trilogy [with] endearingly eccentric characters.” —Chicago Sun-Times

More About the Author

Alexander McCall Smith was born in what is now Zimbabwe and taught law at the University of Botswana. He is now Professor of Medical Law at the University of Edinburgh. He has written more than fifty books, including a number of specialist titles, but is best known for The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series, which has achieved bestseller status on four continents. In 2004 he was awarded British Book Awards Author of the Year and Booksellers Association Author of the Year. He lives in Scotland, where in his spare time he is a bassoonist in the RTO (Really Terrible Orchestra).

Customer Reviews

I think these books are very funny.
LizzardAnn
There are there are the two other professors, Dr. Pringel, and Von Igelfeld's nemesis, Dr. Unterholzer.
David Field
This story more than all the others was a disjoint and didn't really follow a strong thread.
Igelfeld

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By E. Hernandez VINE VOICE on January 10, 2013
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
UNUSUAL USES FOR OLIVE OIL: A PROFESSOR DR. VON IGELFELD ENTERTAINMENT (2011, 203 pages) by Alexander McCall Smith was a weird, unexpected delight for me. I have never heard of Smith, a preeminent Scottish mathematician in his own right - more's the pity because I see a huge bibliography of fiction from him.

This is the latest of a series of four Prof. von Igelfeld novels. The aristocratic von Igelfeld is a professor of Romantic Philology at the German Regensburg institute for Philology. As a philologist, I feel it my obligation to tell you that it basically means "linguist", though I am a comparative philologist. Prof. von Igelfeld is a philologist of Portuguese, because his institute is philology of the Romance languages, and he has gained fame with his tome Portuguese Irregular Verbs. He thinks it is at the center of the intellectual and scholarly universe, and half of this incredible novel centers on von Igelfeld seeking recognition for his contributions to humankind.

I sure as heck know what that is like.

This hilarious tome addresses in humorous shorthand the curses of being an academic who really gets no respect, and actually deserves little. Prof. Dr. Dr. (honoris causa) (mult.) Moritz-Maria von Igelfeld has such a weird official title because he has earned more than one doctorate but has also been awarded several honorary ones - the Germans are weird that way. Smith is a genius at nailing these weird habits and customs. He offers a hilarious little moment when von Igelfeld wonders to himself how the wife of such an academic would be titled.

Wives, you see, "inherit" their husbands' academic titles automatically in Germany.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By David Field VINE VOICE on November 2, 2012
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This is the second book I ordered this month from Amazon Vine, written by Alexander McCall Smith. The first book was about Isabel Dalhousie, and was just as good as all the rest. As I said there, I think a lot of the ideas in this series are taken from McCall Smith's philosophical musings.

But this series is where McCall Smith lets his hair down some. I'm sure some of the characters and discussions in this book are motivated by McCall Smith's experiences in the world of academia. His main character in the series is the hopeless and helpless professor Dr. Von Igelfeld. Igelfeld's one claim to fame is to have written the book, "Portuguese Irregular Verbs," an academic study which sells in miniscule quantities although reasonably highly regarded by his colleagues.

And his colleagues are here from the other books as well. There are there are the two other professors, Dr. Pringel, and Von Igelfeld's nemesis, Dr. Unterholzer. And of course there is the librarian, who is forever going on about his sick aunt in the nursing home.

Von Igelfeld is a stuffy academic with little grasp on the real world. Because the book is told from the perspective of Von Igelfeld, he does not realize what kind of person he is. His first problem is that Dr. Unterholzer appears to have been shortlisted for a prize which Von Igelfeld appears to have been overlooked.

Von Igelfeld travels to Berlin to speak to the person who organized the competition. This is another academic who happens to share the same last name as Dr. Unterholzer.Von Igelfeld suspects some kind of nepotism, and all but accuses the organizer of cheating. However, it turns out that the organizer and Dr. Unterholzer have never met, but by mistake the Awards Committee and he believe that the Dr.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Igelfeld VINE VOICE on November 14, 2012
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The first two books in the Von Igelfeld series, Portuguese Irregular Verbs and the Sausage Dog book were laugh out loud funny, it's been a fairly steep drop off since. The books are a parody on the stereotypical academic with the first two books featuring Dr Dr Professor Igelfeld. The series is centered around the academic life in a small German village where the importance of Igenfeld, his work, and his collaborators is amusingly exaggerated. Like many of the McCall Smith series, the books become formula like and in this case, situations are created that highlight Von Igelfeld's general detachment from reality. This worked quite well in the first two books because it was the right combination of silly, clever, and outrageous. This book has some amusing parts, but the author simply relied too much on his formula in these books. Having read his other series, I believe that the same pattern exists there as well. Rarely do McCall Smith books get better in a single series, but they clearly are still popular. This is perhaps his least popular, but in my own opinion, the book to buy if you haven't read it is his first, Portuguese Irregular Verbs.

If you never read a book from this series, certainly don't start with this one, you'll probably give it one star. My extra two stars from the one is from the momentum of the first two books. If you really liked the first three books, you probably won't like this one any less than the third, which is decidedly weaker than the first two. The book is very short at 200 pagers with double-spaced type and as is usual with McCall Smith's writing style, it's very approachable. This series more than the others embeds some intellectualism into the book, but there isn't much loss if one doesn't pick it up.
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