Hard Times

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Hard Times

by Charles Dickens
Editor Graham Law

Broadview Press | July 15, 1996 | Trade Paperback

Hard Times is rated 4 out of 5 by 2.
Despite the title, Dickens''s portrayal of early industrial society here is less relentlessly grim than that in novels by contemporaries such as Elizabeth Gaskell or Charles Kingsley. Hard Times weaves the tale of Thomas Gradgrind, a hard-headed politician who raises his children Louisa and Tom without love, of Sissy the circus girl with love to spare who is deserted and adopted into their family, and of the honest mill worker Stephen Blackpool and the bombastic mill owner Josiah Bounderby. The key contrasts created are finally less those between wealth and poverty, or capitalists and workers, than those between the head and the heart, between "Fact"-the cold, rationalistic approach to life that Dickens associates with utilitarianism-and "Fancy"-a warmth of the imagination and of the feelings, which values individuals above ideas. Concentrated and compressed in its narrative form, Hard Times is at once a fable, a novel of ideas, and a social novel that seeks to engage directly and analytically with political issues. The central conflicts raised in the text, between government''s duty not to intervene to guarantee the liberty of the subject, and between quantitative and qualitative assessments of progress, remain unresolved today in the late or post industrial stages of liberal democracies.

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 460 pages, 8.5 × 5.5 × 0.94 in

Published: July 15, 1996

Publisher: Broadview Press

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 155111075X

ISBN - 13: 9781551110752

Found in: Fiction and Literature

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Reviews

Rated 3 out of 5 by from More of the same There is a character that appears in all of Charles Dickens' books whom I can't stand. He is the noble worker, the lower class moral compass, and he is consistently a source of Dickens' naive idealism, which, for a jaded soul like me, is a constant impediment to full enjoyment of Dickens' excellent prose. Bob Cratchett, Scrooge's clerk in A Christmas Carol, is the most insufferable of his kind, Joe Gargery, Pip's Uncle in Great Expectations, is the most sufferable of his kind, and Stephen Blackpool, Mr. Bounderby's weaver in Hard Times, falls somewhere in between. Blackpool is morally perfect throughout Hard Times, the man we are to gauge ourselves and everyone in the book against. Blackpool actually believes in justice to such an extent -- despite evidence in his own life to the contrary -- that he would put himself in danger of imprisonment "to clear his name." Further, he believes in the "goodness" of social conventions so completely that he withholds any chance of full happiness with Rachael so that he won't become a "bad" man. I am not sure what I find more annoying, the fact that Dickens believes that people like this exist in such seeming numbers, or the belief that they are somehow people we should aspire to be like? I will concede that people like this do exist, but these people are, I reiterate, insufferable, and they are generally people who are incapable of truly thinking for themselves. And all of this reveals Dickens as that most painful, wishy washy, and dangerous of people -- the bleeding heart liberal. The kind of person who believes, despite all the evidence to the contrary, that if we all just talk about things and complain peaceably the world will change for the better. I proudly declare myself for the left of the political scale, but I'll be damned if I will get my permit to protest and go home with a happy glow in my heart that I've done the "right" thing, when I know full well that I changed absolutely nothing. For a guy like me Dickens is a tough read. Still, Hard Times was one of Dickens' better ones, and at the very least I recognize and admire the strength of Dickens' prose. He is, politics aside, a beautiful writer.
Date published: 2013-10-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Hard Times This novel, unique to Dickens in that it is the only one set in a ficticious town, take a fascinating look at what mechanical, unimaginative and unemotional approaches to life and family may lead. Outlining a somewhat distorted "objectivistic" attitude in his hard-nosed characters, Dickens compliments them beautifully with fun-loving, carefree characters, such as Cissy and Rachael. This novel has an underlying moral buried beneath, should you choose to find it, and leaves the reader feeling a little bit better about themselves.
Date published: 2013-10-29

– More About This Product –

Hard Times

by Charles Dickens
Editor Graham Law

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 460 pages, 8.5 × 5.5 × 0.94 in

Published: July 15, 1996

Publisher: Broadview Press

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 155111075X

ISBN - 13: 9781551110752

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments Introduction Charles Dickens: A Brief Chronology A Note on the Text Hard Times: For These Times Appendix A: The Composition of the Novel 1. Household Words Partners'' Agreement 2. Announcements in Household Words 3. Dickens''s Working Memoranda 4. Mentions in Dickens''s Letters Appendix B: Contemporary Reviews of the Novel 1. Athanaeum (12 August 1854) 2. Examiner (9 September 1854) 3. Gentleman''s Magazine (September 1854) 4. British Quarterly Review (October 1854) 5. Rambler (October 1854) 6. South London Athanaeum and Institution Magazine (October 1854) 7. Westminster Review (October 1854) 8. Blackwood''s Edinburgh Magazine (April 1855) Appendix C: On Industrialization - Commentary 1a. Thomas Carlyle, "Signs of the Times," Edinburgh Review (June 1829) 1b. Thomas Carlyle, Chartism (1839) 1c. Thomas Carlyle, Past and Present (1843) 2. Andrew Ure, The Philosophy of Manufactures (1836) 3. P. Gaskell, Artisans and Machinery (1836) 4a. J.S. Mill, "Bentham," London and Westminster Reveiw (August 1838) 4b. J.S. Mill, Principles of Political Economy (1848) 5. Arthur Helps, The Claims of Labour (1844) 6. Friedrich Engels, The Condition of the Working Class in England in 1844 (1845) 7. Charles Dickens, "On Strike," Household Words (11 February 1854) 8. Henry Morley, "Ground in the Mill," Household Words (22 April 1854) 9. Harriet Martineau, The Factory Controversy: A Warning Against Meddling Legislation (1855) 10. W.B. Hodgson, "On the Importance of the Study of Econo
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From the Publisher

Despite the title, Dickens''s portrayal of early industrial society here is less relentlessly grim than that in novels by contemporaries such as Elizabeth Gaskell or Charles Kingsley. Hard Times weaves the tale of Thomas Gradgrind, a hard-headed politician who raises his children Louisa and Tom without love, of Sissy the circus girl with love to spare who is deserted and adopted into their family, and of the honest mill worker Stephen Blackpool and the bombastic mill owner Josiah Bounderby. The key contrasts created are finally less those between wealth and poverty, or capitalists and workers, than those between the head and the heart, between "Fact"-the cold, rationalistic approach to life that Dickens associates with utilitarianism-and "Fancy"-a warmth of the imagination and of the feelings, which values individuals above ideas. Concentrated and compressed in its narrative form, Hard Times is at once a fable, a novel of ideas, and a social novel that seeks to engage directly and analytically with political issues. The central conflicts raised in the text, between government''s duty not to intervene to guarantee the liberty of the subject, and between quantitative and qualitative assessments of progress, remain unresolved today in the late or post industrial stages of liberal democracies.

From the Jacket

Despite the title, Dickens''s portrayal of early industrial society here is less relentlessly grim than that in novels by contemporaries such as Elizabeth Gaskell or Charles Kingsley. Hard Times weaves the tale of Thomas Gradgrind, a hard-headed politician who raises his children Louisa and Tom without love, of Sissy the circus girl with love to spare who is deserted and adopted into their family, and of the honest mill worker Stephen Blackpool and the bombastic mill owner Josiah Bounderby. The key contrasts created are finally less those between wealth and poverty, or capitalists and workers, than those between the head and the heart, between "Fact"-the cold, rationalistic approach to life that Dickens associates with utilitarianism-and "Fancy"-a warmth of the imagination and of the feelings, which values individuals above ideas. Concentrated and compressed in its narrative form, Hard Times is at once a fable, a novel of ideas, and a social novel that seeks to engage directly and analytically with political issues. The central conflicts raised in the text, between government''s duty not to intervene to guarantee the liberty of the subject, and between quantitative and qualitative assessments of progress, remain unresolved today in the late or post industrial stages of liberal democracies.

About the Author

Graham Law, a Professor of English at Waseda University, Japan, is the author of a variety of books and articles on nineteenth-century and modern fiction; he has also edited two other Broadview Literary Texts series editions: Great Expectations (with Adrian Pinnington) and The Evil Genius.

Editorial Reviews

"This beautifully produced edition combines a freshly written, informative introduction with helpful and well-judged notes. Particularly welcome is the wealth of documentary material and examples carefully chosen from other contemporary fiction, enabling readers to place Hard Times within its full Victorian context. This is an excellent edition-clear, authoritative and stimulating."
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