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"My satire is against those who see figures and averages, and nothing else," proclaimed Charles Dickens in explaining the theme of this classic novel. Published in 1854, the story concerns one Thomas Gradgrind, a "fanatic of the demonstrable fact," who raises his children, Tom and Louisa, in a stifling and arid atmosphere of grim practicality.
Without a moral compass to guide them, the children sink into lives of desperation and despair, played out against the grim background of Coketown, a wretched community shadowed by an industrial behemoth. Louisa falls into a loveless marriage with Josiah Bouderby, a vulgar banker, while the unscrupulous Tom, totally lacking in principle, becomes a thief who frames an innocent man for his crime. Witnessing the degradation and downfall of his children, Gradgrind realizes that his own misguided principles have ruined their lives.
Considered Dickens' harshest indictment of mid-19th-century industrial practices and their dehumanizing effects, this novel offers a fascinating tapestry of Victorian life, filled with the richness of detail, brilliant characterization, and passionate social concern that typify the novelist's finest creations.
Of Dickens' work, the eminent Victorian critic John Ruskin had this to say: "He is entirely right in his main drift and purpose in every book he has written; and all of them, but especially Hard Times, should be studied with close and earnest care by persons interested in social questions."
Charles Dickens is............well, simply Charles Dickens. While 'Hard Times' is one of his lesser known tales, it deserves the same merit with those of more popularly known... Read morePublished on March 18 2012 by Ronald W. Maron
"Hard Times" belongs to the second half of Dickens's writing career, in which his work becomes rather more somber and, by common critical assent, more mature and... Read morePublished on Feb. 20 2004 by Peter Reeve
It is unfortunate that HARD TIMES by Charles Dickens is not usually read outside the classroom. It is an unforgettable glimpse of an age that did not prize the worth of the... Read morePublished on Nov. 4 2003 by Martin Asiner
Dickens was a great rhetorician, but not a very deep social thinker. _Hard Times_ is the novel in which he tries to tell us that there are a Whole lot O' Things Wrong with Britain... Read morePublished on Oct. 23 2003 by Mark Silcox
Hard Times is first and foremost a burning indictment on industrialism and the total reliance on reason without consideration for emotions. It is also a great novel. Read morePublished on Sept. 16 2003 by Jennifer B. Barton
In this novel set in industrial revolution era Great Britain, Dickens is about as subtle as a sledgehammer. Read morePublished on Sept. 9 2003 by Vilbs
I hated reading Dickens in high school, and I was never able to get past the first chapter of any of his books, including this one. Read morePublished on June 22 2003 by P. Costello
I initially lamented the fact that Hard Times was assigned to me in my British lit. class. I had read some of Dickens's melodramas like A Tale of Two Cities and Oliver Twist and... Read morePublished on March 30 2003 by Oddsfish
If you read Hard Times for the sole purpose of being entertained you will probably be highly disappointed. Read morePublished on April 17 2002