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Hard Times (THE GREAT CLASSICS LIBRARY
     

Hard Times (THE GREAT CLASSICS LIBRARY

3.3 32
by Charles Dickens
 

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Hard Times - For These Times (commonly known as Hard Times) is Dickens' tenth novel, first published in 1854. The book appraises English society and is aimed at highlighting the social and economic pressures of the times. It is unusual in several respects. It is by far the shortest of Dickens' novels, barely a quarter of the length of those written before and after it

Overview

Hard Times - For These Times (commonly known as Hard Times) is Dickens' tenth novel, first published in 1854. The book appraises English society and is aimed at highlighting the social and economic pressures of the times. It is unusual in several respects. It is by far the shortest of Dickens' novels, barely a quarter of the length of those written before and after it. Also, unlike all but one of his other novels, Hard Times has neither a preface, nor illustrations. Moreover, it is his only novel not to have scenes set in London. Instead the story is set in the fictitious Victorian industrial Coketown, a generic Northern English mill-town, in some ways similar to Manchester, though smaller. Coketown may be partially based upon 19th-century Preston.
One of Dickens' reasons for writing Hard Times was that sales of his weekly periodical, Household Words, were low, and it was hoped its publication in instalments would boost circulation, as indeed proved to be the case.
Since publication it has received a mixed response from critics, such as F.R. Leavis, George Bernard Shaw, and Thomas Macaulay, mainly focusing on Dickens's treatment of trade unions and his post-Industrial Revolution pessimism regarding the divide between Capitalist mill owners and undervalued workers during the Victorian era.
Dickens especially targeted the Utilitarians in this novel. Utilitarianism was a prevalent school of thought during this period, its founders being Jeremy Bentham and James Mill, father to political theorist John Stuart Mill. Theoretical Utilitarian ethics hold that promotion of general social welfare is the ultimate goal for the individual and society in general: "the greatest amount of happiness for the greatest number of people." Dickens believed that in practical terms, the pursuit of a totally rationalized society could lead to great misery.
Bentham's former secretary, Edwin Chadwick, helped design the Poor Law of 1834, which deliberately made workhouse life as uncomfortable as possible. In the novel, this is conveyed in Bitzer's response to Gradgrind's appeal for compassion.
Dickens was appalled by what was, in his interpretation, a selfish philosophy, which was combined with materialist laissez-faire capitalism in the education of some children at the time, as well as in industrial practices. In Dickens' interpretation, the prevalence of utilitarian values in educational institutions promoted contempt between mill owners and workers, creating young adults whose imaginations had been neglected, due to an over-emphasis on facts at the expense of more imaginative pursuits.
Dickens wished to satirize radical Utilitarians whom he described in a letter to Charles Knight as "see[ing] figures and averages, and nothing else." He also wished to campaign for reform of working conditions. Dickens had visited factories in Manchester as early as 1839, and was appalled by the environment in which workers toiled. Drawing upon his own childhood experiences, Dickens resolved to "strike the heaviest blow in my power" for those who laboured in horrific conditions.
John Stuart Mill had a similar, rigorous education to that of Louisa Gradgrind, consisting of analytical, logical, mathematical, and statistical exercises. In his twenties, Mill had a nervous breakdown, believing his capacity for emotion had been enervated by his father's stringent emphasis on analysis and mathematics in his education. In the book, Louisa herself follows a parallel course, being unable to express herself and falling into a temporary depression as a result of her dry education.

Product Details

BN ID:
2940015829426
Publisher:
Revenant
Publication date:
12/05/2012
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
File size:
677 KB

Related Subjects

Meet the Author

Charles Dickens (1812-1870) is probably the greatest novelist England has ever produced, the author of such well-known classics as A Christmas Carol, Great Expectations, David Copperfield and Oliver Twist. His innate comic genius and shrewd depictions of Victorian life — along with his indelible characters — have made his books beloved by readers the world over.

Brief Biography

Date of Birth:
February 7, 1812
Date of Death:
June 18, 1870
Place of Birth:
Portsmouth, England
Place of Death:
Gad's Hill, Kent, England
Education:
Home-schooling; attended Dame School at Chatham briefly and Wellington

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Hard Times 3.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 32 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is typical Dickens where many subplots are interwoven into an overall main plot. Many subtle moral implications are made about the characters and subject matter.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Bad copy
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I don't quite understand the plot of the book so far. If you have read the book before, can you please spoil it a bit for me? If so, respond to #equestria
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
THEY'RE AT ANOTHER BOOK, FIND IT!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sigh nevermind. v.v
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Im<p> Also<p> Grub<p> Ish<p>
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is really a good book, even from the description I knew it would be great and so it is. This is the most best books I've ever read :)
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
all the free dickens books have screwed up text. please fix them. I down loaded hard times, and got screwed up text from domby and son.
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NancyLuvsReading More than 1 year ago
I highly recommend this book as I would all Dickens books. The true intention of the book is there in all the amazing characters that Dickens invents and the predicaments that are their's due to life circumstances and their own actions. Dickens always comes up with appropriate names for some of his characters as in McChoakamchild as a teachers name. I found that to be very amusing and too true in some instances of my own life. As for the accents and so called run on sentences well, practice the accents outloud till you get them. Any education, and that's what I consider reading books of another time period as, is worth the practice and little bit of work to obtain such enjoyment.
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UniCacher More than 1 year ago
The prospect of millions of free titles may seem appealing, but you get what you pay for. In this case, the first paragraph alone indicates the value you receive for zero dollars. Nearly every other word is mis-scanned, rendering the text virtually unreadable. Don't waste time on the free texts. Spend a dollar to get a version that is edited and contains a functional table of contents.
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