Hard Times

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Hard Times

by Charles Dickens

Bloomsbury Press Agency | July 12, 2011 | Trade Paperback

Hard Times is rated 4 out of 5 by 2.
“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.

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 416 pages, 8.25 × 5.25 × 0.6 in

Published: July 12, 2011

Publisher: Bloomsbury Press Agency

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 1847491413

ISBN - 13: 9781847491411

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: 2008-08-07
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: 2000-10-05

– More About This Product –

Hard Times

Hard Times

by Charles Dickens

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 416 pages, 8.25 × 5.25 × 0.6 in

Published: July 12, 2011

Publisher: Bloomsbury Press Agency

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 1847491413

ISBN - 13: 9781847491411

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 with an unaccommodating grasp, like a stubborn fact, as it was,—a
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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.

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.

Editorial Reviews

“A masterpiece . . . a completely serious work of art.”
– F.R. Leavis