The 2½ Pillars of Wisdom (The Von Igelfeld Trilogy)

Reading Time: 2 minutes

by Alexander McCall Smith
The summer will soon be over. You have read mysteries, novels of romance and intrigue. You have even read some fine literature and literary fiction. Now perhaps you are ready for a change of pace. And that is what you will get if you pick up The 2 ½ Pillars of Wisdom. This is actually a trilogy of short comic novels by Alexander McCall Smith. Yes, he is the author of the #1 Ladies Detective Agency (reviewed here earlier in the summer), but there is little similarity in the two series. The common element is McCall Smith’s keen eye for human behavior; the kindnesses, foibles, and eccentricities. Beyond that these two series have little in common.

The books that make up the trilogy are Portuguese Irregular Verbs, The Finer Points of Sausage Dogs, and At the Villa of Reduced Circumstances. These books relate the story of Professor Doctor Moritz-Maria Von Igelfeld and his colleagues at the Institute of Romance Philology in Regensburg, Germany; Professor Doctor Detlev Amadeus Unterholzer and Professor Doctor Doctor (honoris causa) Florianus Prinzel. The three men are colleagues, friends, and rivals as they all attempt to make names for themselves in the world of academia. Their competition sometimes has hilarious consequences.

Consider the time that Professor Doctor von Igelfeld was invited to lecture at the