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

4.15  ·  Rating details ·  73 ratings  ·  15 reviews
This collection of writings is about the Industrial Revolution. The extracts are taken from diaries, letters, scientific reports and literature. Each piece sheds light on those that come before and after, as it measures how the human imagination experienced the Industrial Revolution.
Paperback, 416 pages
Published November 1st 1995 by Trans-Atlantic Publications (first published October 1st 1985)
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James Calbraith
Jul 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
There is no better way to study history - even for an amateur historian - than by reading source material, and this book is a fantastic collection of first-hand reports from one of the most fascinating eras of world's history; a rare treat, since most of the literature we have from that period is escapist "gothic" prose or "idyllic" poetry, leaving us with an impression of an unsuspecting world accepting the sudden onset of industrial revolution without so much as batting an eyelid.

Sep 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is worth the time required to read it. The rather dry study of the industrial revolution of my school days would have benefitted from this. The value for me comes from the combination of the eye witness accounts with the fictional passages and the diaries of scientists and engineers as we forged our way into a new life. This is also the birth of the working class and sounds resonantly for me right now as we consider how we continue to struggle for equality and fairness in the distribution o ...more
Dec 27, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, history
This is a compedium of primary sources from the industrial revolution. It has a marxist subtext, ocassionally just "text," namely towards a depiction of industrial development as a violent evil force.

1830: The Black Country is anything but picturesque. The earth seems to have been turned inside out. Its entrails are strewn about; nearly the entire surface of the ground is covered with cinder-heaps and mounds of scoriae. The coal, which has been drawn from below ground, is blazing on the surfac
Adam Stevenson
Mar 12, 2018 rated it liked it
There should be more books like this. The concept of arranging text as montage is a fantastic one, with texts reflecting, refracting and contradicting each other, creating a kaleidoscope of meaning. As Humphrey Jennings’ introduction says, ‘

It’s not an open and free play of imagination though, Jennings’ own intent and interpretation almost overwhelm the reader’s. Jennings has a definite story he wishes to tell, one of relatively free, animistic peasants being overwhelmed by the force
Richard Hurst
Oct 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Fabulous book. Blogs from past! I particularly enjoyed people writing about their experiences of speed from the train, and heights from balloons.

Sad accounts of the poverty and working conditions of people well documented here, as are some of the political and social insights of the times.
Mallen Baker
Jun 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Fascinating mini-glimpses of life through the dark heat of the industrial revolution, as recorded by those that lived through it. A great slice of history from multiple perspectives.
Apr 22, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a book of excerpts from sources relating to the coming of the industrial revolution presented in chronological order. The excerpts were gathered over many years by the author and published post-humosly by his daughter. The book is said to have played a great part in inspiring Danny Boyle's 2012 London Olympic Opening ceremony.

I really had high hopes for this book as I am fascinated by this topic, and it delivered in part. Some of the "images" (as the author calls the passages
Nov 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
A collection of contemporary texts on the progress of the industrial revolution from 1660 to 1866, well chosen and arranged in chronologigal order. It includes poetry, diary extracts and contemporary writings and gives an excellent flavour of the changes taking place. It provides a continuous narrative of the industrial revolution, but told from many different viewpoints, a narrative of ideas and emotions, not merely of hard facts and mechanical innovations. The pieces illuminate the industrial ...more
Roy Kenagy
I bought a copy of Pandaemonium maybe 10 years ago but never managed to get it read. I saw a reference today that compares it to Walter Benjamin's "The Arcades Project" (I've been stalled about half way through "Arcades" for several years). It's time to track both down on my disorganized shelves and study them!

NYT review (1985):

"For Humphrey Jennings, Pandaemonium was a prophetic symbol of industrialism, and it provides not only the title but also the starting point of his attempt to chronicl
Dec 19, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
"Pandaemonium: The coming of the machine" is an awkward, grinding introduction to the industrial revolution for this member of a post-industrial generation. The book's modernist fragmentary form clashes with the distant science and the staid, long-winded language of the period. This is compounded by Jennings' infrequent commentary: as its density and insight - pointing to esoteric associations between texts that were beyond my capacity to notice for myself - often seemed a more valuable proposit ...more
Nicki Markus
I finished this book with mixed views. On the one hand it contained some fascinating accounts of daily life and early experiences of technology. But on the other hand, some passages felt too long and dragged. In addition, a number of pictures and illustrations are referred to at the start of the book, but only a handful showed up on my Kobo. I am unsure if this was an issue with the way the book displayed on my e-reader or due to the fact it was an ARC copy and maybe not all images had been put ...more
Feb 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
If not the most interesting book I've ever read, certainly among the top ten or a dozen. Pandæmonium, which became the inspiration for the first section of the Opening Ceremony of the 2012 Olympic games, is an exploration of the effects, mostly in Britain, of the invention of modern machinery from 1660 to 1886, and covers every aspect through the experiencing of, writing about and recording of those effects on society, specific groups and individuals.

The changes wrought by the comput
tom bomp
Sep 13, 2013 rated it liked it
the quality varies massively because there are so many source extracts that vary in how they're written and what they say. some were a drag and hard to read (the early writing in particular is horrible because the language is archaic) some are really interesting documentary history. sometimes fragments could probably be interesting if given wider context. I'd have appreciated more editor interludes. personally i have trouble with descriptive writing so the significant amount which is pretty much ...more
Aug 11, 2009 added it
A compendium of historical notes on the arrival of the industrial revolution- starting in the early 1600s and ending in the 1880s. It took me much longer to read this book than it should have as I got bogged down by the theoretical/scientific passages, which toward the end I skipped. I much preferred the straightforward reportorial pieces which brought forward the excitement people felt for such marvels as seeing objects through a microscope, floating above London in a hot air balloon, or travel ...more
Jul 29, 2012 marked it as to-read
This collection of writings on the industrial revolution is said to be part of the inspiration for the Opening Ceremony of the London Games: Frank Cottrell Boyce in the Observer.
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