Saturday, 12 November 2016

Glimpses

Here’s a small diversion. I’ve just finished reading Pandaemonium by Humphrey Jennings, a compendium of extracts and commentary tracing the effects on human imagination of scientific and industrial change between the 17th and 19th centuries. Jennings was a leftish journalist, film-maker and critic who died in 1950 before Pandaemonium could be finished, and it wasn’t until 1985 that his daughter and friends managed to get a version published by Andre Deutsch; curiously the book looks older than that by about twenty years. My copy is ex-library stock, so that was probably where I bought it.

It was only when I’d finished the book that I paid attention to the inscription on the fly leaf. ‘David’ and ‘Charlotte’ were clearly two people involved in the making of the book, so this copy wasn’t just a gift but a gift of particular significance. There is, however, no hint in the text as to who they were: an editor, a publicist, staff at Andre Deutsch? How our lives move around and through the traces of the lives of others.

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