Hard Times

Hardcover | September 1, 2008

byCharles Dickens

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.0000000000Hard Times is perhaps the archetypal Dickens novel, full as it is with family difficulties, estrangement, rotten values and unhappiness. It was published in 1854 and it is the story of the family of Thomas Gradgrind, and occurs in the imaginary Coketown, an industrial city inspired by Preston. Gradgrind is a man obsessed with misguided 'Utilitarian' values that make him trust facts, statistics and practicality more than emotion and is based upon James Mill (the Utilitarian leader). He directs his own children, Louisa and Tom, in this same way: enforcing an artless existence upon them. Contemporary critics such as Macaulay savaged the book for its supposed 'sullen socialism' but it has become well thought-of since the favour of George Bernard Shaw.Illustrated by Harry French, with an Afterword by David Stuart Davies.

From the Publisher

.0000000000Hard Times is perhaps the archetypal Dickens novel, full as it is with family difficulties, estrangement, rotten values and unhappiness. It was published in 1854 and it is the story of the family of Thomas Gradgrind, and occurs in the imaginary Coketown, an industrial city inspired by Preston. Gradgrind is a man obsessed wit...

Charles Dickens was born in 1812 near Portsmouth, where his father worked as a clerk. Living in London in 1824, Dickens was sent by his family to work in a blacking-warehouse, and his father was arrested and imprisoned for debt. Fortunes improved and Dickens returned to school, eventually becoming a parliamentary reporter. His first pi...

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:416 pages, 5.91 × 3.66 × 0.98 inPublished:September 1, 2008Publisher:Pan MacmillanLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1905716389

ISBN - 13:9781905716388

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Customer Reviews of Hard Times

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