Editorial Reviews. Review. `Pandaemonium was the biggest single inspiration for the Olympics : Pandaemonium – The Coming of the Machine as Seen by Contemporary Observers eBook: Humphrey Jennings. Buy Pandaemonium The Coming of the Machine as Seen by Contemporary Observers New by Humphrey Jennings, Marie-Louise Jennings, Frank. Results 1 – 30 of 36 Pandaemonium: The Coming of the Machine as Seen by Contemporary Observers by Humphrey Jennings and a great selection of related.

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Pandaemonium (history book)

D idn’t we all love the opening ceremony of the Olympics? And didn’t we all hate the closing ceremony? There was a reason for this: The screenwriter and children’s author Frank Cottrell Boycewho worked with Danny Boyle on the ceremony, gave him a copy of this book early on in the project, and its ideas percolated, with splendid results, into the finished result.

In his excellent foreword, Boyce writes: This is, you might think upon reading it, putting it rather loosely: There are other minute natural descriptions here: This edition — which represents about one third of the original text — is the work of Humphrey Jenningsthe great film-maker who died in You might have seen A Diary for Timothy and Fires Were Startedwartime films which, although commissioned with propagandist intent, have none of the vicious emptiness of propaganda, but are beautiful works in their own right.


Every so often he steps in, as after a description of a Derby silk mill, given by someone who was a child labourer there: I have it from more than one reliable source that a cabinet minister wailed to Boyle that the ceremony was “not Tory enough”, and there are times when this book seems to have a political agenda: I defy you to read the eye-witness description of the Peterloo massacre without weeping with indignation.

Pandæmonium by Humphrey Jennings – review | Books | The Guardian

You may also note Darwin, troubled by the theological implications of his work on evolution: I cannot persuade myself that a beneficent and omnipotent God would have designedly created the Ichneumonidae with the express intention of their feeding within the living bodies of Caterpillars, or that a cat should play with jennungs. But there is a multitude of voices here, and delight as well as revulsion or mystification.

Coleridge acknowledges Newton’s genius, although says “I believe the souls of Sir Isaac Newtons would go the making up of pandaeminium Shakespeare or a Milton. In short, this is nothing less than a one-volume history of modern Britain.


It is extraordinary how Jennings managed to turn a concatenation of accounts, from names both famous and obscure, into something that has such power.

It’s a question of momentum, perhaps; like a film, as Jennings himself said, about “the place of panaemonium in the making of the modern world”.

Jennings’s daughter, Mary-Louise, in her excellent introduction, implies that the book should be read in order. Jennings himself was more relaxed.

Pandaemonium, 1660-1886: The Coming of the Machine as Seen by Contemporary Observers

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