Hard Times

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Hard Times

by Charles Dickens

Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group | June 2, 1992 | Hardcover

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"Facts alone are wanted in life." The children at Mr. Gradgrind's school are sternly ordered to stifle their imaginations and pay attention only to cold, hard reality. The effects of Gradgrind's teaching on his own children, Tom and Louisa, are particularly profound and leave them ill-equipped to deal with the unpredictable desires of the human heart. Luckily for them, they have a friend in Sissy Jupe, the child of a circus clown, who retains her warm-hearted, compassionate nature despite the pressures around her.

By 1854, when Hard Times was published, Charles Dickens'' magisterial progress as a writer had come to incorporate a many-sided, coherent vision of English society, both as it was and as he wished it to be. Hard Times, a classic Dickensian story of redemption set in a North of England town beset by industrialism, everywhere benefits from this vision - in the trenchancy of its satire, in its sweeping indignation at social injustice, and in the persistent humanity with which its author enlivens his largest and smallest incidents.

(Book Jacket Status: Jacketed)

Format: Hardcover

Dimensions: 336 pages, 8.31 × 5.23 × 1.05 in

Published: June 2, 1992

Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0679413235

ISBN - 13: 9780679413233

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– More About This Product –

Hard Times

by Charles Dickens

Format: Hardcover

Dimensions: 336 pages, 8.31 × 5.23 × 1.05 in

Published: June 2, 1992

Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0679413235

ISBN - 13: 9780679413233

About the Book

(Book Jacket Status: Jacketed)
By 1854, when Hard Times was published, Charles Dickens' magisterial progress as a writer had come to incorporate a many-sided, coherent vision of English society, both as it was and as he wished it to be. Hard Times. a classic Dickensian story of redemption set in a North of England town beset by industrialism, everywhere benefits from this vision - in the trenchancy of its satire, in its sweeping indignation at social injustice, and in the persistent humanity with which its author enlivens his largest and smallest incidents.

Read from the Book

CHAPTER I The One Thing Needful “Now, what I want is, Facts. Teach these boys and girls nothing but Facts. Facts alone are wanted in life. Plant nothing else, and root out everything else. You can only form the minds of reasoning animals upon Facts: nothing else will ever be of any service to them. This is the principle on which I bring up my own children, and this is the principle on which I bring up these children. Stick to Facts, Sir!” The scene was a plain, bare, monotonous vault of a schoolroom, and the speaker’s square forefinger emphasized his observations by underscoring every sentence with a line on the schoolmaster’s sleeve. The emphasis was helped by the speaker’s square wall of a forehead, which had his eyebrows for its base, while his eyes found commodious cellerage in two dark caves, overshadowed by the wall. The emphasis was helped by the speaker’s mouth, which was wide, thin, and hard set. The emphasis was helped by the speaker’s voice, which was inflexible, dry, and dictatorial. The emphasis was helped by the speaker’s hair, which bristled on the skirts of his bald head, a plantation of firs to keep the wind from its shining surface, all covered with knobs, like the crust of a plum pie, as if the head had scarcely warehouse-room for the hard facts stored inside. The speaker’s obstinate carriage, square coat, square legs, square shoulders,—nay, his very neckcloth, trained to take him by the throat wit
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From the Publisher

"Facts alone are wanted in life." The children at Mr. Gradgrind's school are sternly ordered to stifle their imaginations and pay attention only to cold, hard reality. The effects of Gradgrind's teaching on his own children, Tom and Louisa, are particularly profound and leave them ill-equipped to deal with the unpredictable desires of the human heart. Luckily for them, they have a friend in Sissy Jupe, the child of a circus clown, who retains her warm-hearted, compassionate nature despite the pressures around her.

By 1854, when Hard Times was published, Charles Dickens'' magisterial progress as a writer had come to incorporate a many-sided, coherent vision of English society, both as it was and as he wished it to be. Hard Times, a classic Dickensian story of redemption set in a North of England town beset by industrialism, everywhere benefits from this vision - in the trenchancy of its satire, in its sweeping indignation at social injustice, and in the persistent humanity with which its author enlivens his largest and smallest incidents.

(Book Jacket Status: Jacketed)

About the Author

Philip Collins is the author of Dickens aria Crime and Dickens and Education, and the editor of volumes of interviews with Dickens and Thackeray. He was formerly Emeritus Professor of English at Leicester University.

From Our Editors

Hard Times, a classic Dickensian story of redemption set in a North of England town beast by industrialism, everywhere benefits from this vision.

Editorial Reviews

By 1854, when Hard Times was published, Charles Dickens’ magisterial progress as a writer had come to incorporate a many-sided, coherent vision of English society, both as it was and as he wished it to be. Hard Times. a classic Dickensian story of redemption set in a North of England town beset by industrialism, everywhere benefits from this vision - in the trenchancy of its satire, in its sweeping indignation at social injustice, and in the persistent humanity with which its author enlivens his largest and smallest incidents.

Bookclub Guide

1. Did Dickens have a clear purpose in writing Hard Times? Was Hard Times primarily an exhortation to solve the problems faced by
nineteenth-century England, or was his subject matter merely a vehicle that allowed him to write a humorous story using the familiar character types of his day? Do you consider Dickens primarily to be an activist? A social critic? A humor writer?

2. Describe the relationship of Mr. and Mrs. Gradgrind. Why is Mr. Gradgrind''s philosophy lost on Mrs. Gradgrind? What accounts for her total lack of understanding?

3. In the first few words of Hard Times, in the title to the first book, "Sowing," there is a biblical allusion. Hard Times ends with another biblical allusion in the penultimate paragraph, where Dickens refers to the "Writing on the Wall." Biblical references are made throughout the novel, and Christian sentiment is appealed to constantly. How important are Christian underpinnings to Dickens''s moral message? Do Dickens''s criticisms and appeals go beyond the religious? If so, what other moral ideals are put forth in Hard Times, and what are their implications?

4. Coketown is, of course, a wholly fictitious city. However, it is a microcosm of England during the time of the Industrial Revolution and is modeled on cities that existed at the time. What are the problems of Coketown, and what are the causes of these problems? As a community, does Coketown accurately or inaccurately portray the ills of nineteenth-century English industrial cities? Does the creation of this fictitious town make Dickens''s satire more effective than if he were to situate it in a real city? Why?

5. Since the conditions of life in English factory towns have changed, and many years have passed since the writing of Hard Times, what can be said to be the book''s lasting value? Is it primarily historical, painting a picture of the way life was at one time? Is it moral or philosophical? Are the aspects of the novel that were important at the time of its publication still the ones that are valued today?

6. Are Rachael and Stephen realistic characters, even in the context of a satirical novel? What purpose do they serve to the novel as a whole, and which characters are they most starkly contrasted with? How does the scene of Stephen''s death stand out in the novel? How is it important to the overarching themes Dickens is trying to convey?




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