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the Complete Review
the complete review - essays

The Jingle Bell Principle

Miroslav Holub

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To purchase The Jingle Bell Principle

Title: The Jingle Bell Principle
Author: Miroslav Holub
Genre: Essays
Written: 1987
Length: 112 pages
Original in: Czech
Availability: The Jingle Bell Principle - US
The Jingle Bell Principle - UK
The Jingle Bell Principle - Canada
  • With illustrations by Vladimir Rencin and photographs by Vojtech Pisarik
  • Notes and Objections, maximum length 43 lines
  • Translated by James Naughton

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Our Assessment:

B- : decent enough little casual pieces

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
World Lit. Today . Spring/1993 E.J. Czerwinski

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The complete review's Review:

       This attractive little Bloodaxe book, complete with elegant black-and-white photographs (by Vojtech Pisarik) harmless cartoons (by Vladimir Rencin), and clever quotes from the famous (and not so famous) collects short little pieces Holub contributed to Vim magazine.
       Restricted to 43 lines in his column, the pieces do not aim for much depth or comprehensiveness. Holub explains his basic column-writing rules in the introductory piece. A column should be of a "light disposition," it should have (as far as possible) "a certain facetiousness." The topic should be "mundane and minimal in matter" -- i.e. definitely not about something like the sinking of the Titanic.
       All in all, not necessarily welcoming propositions -- and, knowing Holub mainly from his poetry (or perhaps his immunological work), not what we expect from the master.
       The pieces are not trivial, but they are of the Sunday magazine sort, short, often amusing ruminations about whatever comes to mind. Subjects covered include: A Land pleasant in Clime to Inhabit, Logical Riddles, Mickey Mouse from the Biological Point of View, The Art of Non-Listening, The Mythology of Books, Kitsch, and On Grazing. Holub's little riffs are often fairly amusing, and there are a few thoughtful thoughts. The pieces offer interesting insight into his thoughts and preoccupations, but one constantly wishes that he would go at the subjects more seriously (as he does in his superb essay collection, The Dimension of the Present Moment (Faber & Faber, 1990))
       Facetiousness is not his naturally adopted tone, trivial prose not the style best suited to his talents. We admire his effort to reach a larger audience by publishing these in the popular press, but we do not believe the experiment was a complete success. Dosed out weekly the columns might be a welcome read, collected, as they are here, they are amusing but not particularly fascinating (as so much else of his writing is).
       Recommended to those who want to get to know another facet of Holub. Otherwise: look to his other works.

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The Jingle Bell Principle: Miroslav Holub: Other books by Miroslav Holub under review: Other books of interest under review:
  • See Index of Poetry under review

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About the Author:

       Czech poet and scientist Miroslav Holub (1923-1998) was one of the major Eastern European poets of the post-war period. He earned both an M.D. and a Ph.D. and was a noted immunologist with more than 150 academic papers to his name. Much of his poetry has been translated into English.

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