Hard Times, Paperback Book
4 out of 5 (2 ratings)


Hard Times is Dickens's shortest novel, and arguably his greatest triumph. A useful appendix of the author's working notes, together with an enlightening introduction and full explanatory notes, will ensure that this edition becomes the obvious choice for anyone studying the novel.

Paul Schlike is Lecturer in English at the University of Aberdeen.

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Showing 1 - 2 of 2 reviews.

Review by

Louisa Gradgrind and her brother grow up in mid-19th century London filled with nothing by facts, law, discipline, and capitalism. As a result, Louisa enters into a loveless marriage to an ass of an older man, her brother turns to the seedier side of life, while the orphan child, Sissy, who made her home with the Gradgrinds after being deserted by her circus performing father seems to grow into the woman that Louisa should have become. A treatise on the importance of beauty, imagination, and human compassion triumphing over the then-burgeoning trend toward the mechanization of society, Hard Times is a typical Dickens novel with wonderful - and extensive - wordplay, lively dialogue, and a slightly sarcastic sense of humor. Definitely for the advanced reader, I recommend this book for the young adult section of a public library especially because of its place in classical literature.

Review by

Aw, guys, don't pick on Dickens. (And you BEST not be dickin on Pickens.) This is a great-hearted novel, that reminds us just to be kind to one another first of all, and fight the injustice we can see. And sure, Dickens is a bleeding-heart liberal, and sure, it's unforgivable the way he represents the union movement, via Slackbridge, as venal and exploitative. But the accomplishments of the unions in the 19th and 20th centuries (I miss solidarity), much as they wouldn't have come about without that good strong ethic of martial socialism, also wouldn't have come about if they hadn't endeavoured in a world made ready for them by debatechangers like Boz. You need both sides. And sure, yes, there's also the argument that that kind of liberalism undermines the potential for real change; but tell that to all the people who suffered a little bit less after the Poor Laws were repealed. You need both sides.<br><p>And like how we forgive Atticus Finch for not challenging Jim Crow, a current reading can easily enough put its hand over its heart and salute the good in Dickens for making a stand, without buying in completely--certainly we'll ignore his "let them eat Christianity" for the poor at every opportunity, his failure to really challenge class privilege--we'll read against him, and recognize with a righteous anger the way that class influences the fates, respectively, of Harthouse, Tom Gradgrind, and Stephen Blackpool. And acknowledge the truth of the representation.<br><p>My sister says that university students pick on Dickens because of that thing where you hate what you are--and what do they do but talk about the oppressed from a position of privilege? Dickens is of course guilty as charged on that score, Marx himself also gave him credit for making caring respectable for the self-interested middle classes. And <i>Hard Times</i> was his major salvo.<br><p>He fought the injustice he could see. Better champagne socialism than no socialism at all.

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