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by Charles Dickens
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From School Library Journal
Grade 7-12-Dickens' satire on the Victorian family and the philosophies of a society which sought to turn men into machines.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
In Dickens's story of the horrors of a utilitarian upbringing, reason and facts are everything, and imagination and creativity are nothing. The narrator's British accent goes well with Dickens's overly dramatic and lush prose. He uses different English accents for the numerous male characters, some speech defects for others and a breathy falsetto voice for all the women. While a straight rendition of the dialogue would be an improvement, luckily the story is mainly narrative. Some classics simply may not translate well either to audiobooks or to the 1990's. E.F. (c)AudioFile, Portland, Maine
Barry V. Qualls, Rutgers University
Graham Laws edition of Hard Times is the most useful edition for teaching Dickens that I have seen...
Kate Flint, University of Oxford
This beautifully produced edition combines a freshly written, informative introduction with helpful and well-judged notes...
Woes of Victorian life for the underclass.
Hard Times appeared in weekly parts in Household Words in 1854, printed on the pages usually occupied by leading articles on the major social issues of the day. In the overlapping worlds of Gradgrind's schoolroom, Bounderby the humbug industrialist and Sissy Jupe of Sleary's Circus, Dickens joyfully satirizes Utilitarianism, the self-help doctrines of Samuel Smiles and the mechanization of the mid-Victorian soul. It is a novel deeply preoccupied with childhood and family life, bursting with unresolvable tensions and contradictions and wonderfully entertaining in its metaphorical wit and invention.
The Merriam-Webster Encyclopedia of Literature
Novel by Charles Dickens, published in serial form (as Hard Times: For These Times) in the periodical Household Words from April to August 1854 and in book form later the same year. The novel is a bitter indictment of industrialization, with its dehumanizing effects on workers and communities in mid-19th-century England. Louisa and Tom Gradgrind have been harshly raised by their father, an educator, to know nothing but the most factual, pragmatic information. Their lives are devoid of beauty, culture, or imagination, and the two have little or no empathy for others. Louisa marries Josiah Bounderby, a vulgar banker and mill owner. She eventually leaves her husband and returns to her father's house. Tom, unscrupulous and vacuous, robs his brother-in-law's bank. Only after these crises does their father realize that the principles by which he raised his children have corrupted their lives.
From the Publisher
The Broadview Literary Texts series is an effort to represent the ever-changing canon of literature in English by bringing together texts long regarded as classics with valuable, though lesser-known literature.
From the Inside Flap
By 1854, when Hard Times was published, Charles Dickens' magisterial progress as a writer had come to incorporate a many-sided, coherent vision of English society, both as it was and as he wished it to be. Hard Times. a classic Dickensian story of redemption set in a North of England town beset by industrialism, everywhere benefits from this vision - in the trenchancy of its satire, in its sweeping indignation at social injustice, and in the persistent humanity with which its author enlivens his largest and smallest incidents.
About the Author
Graham Law is an associate professor of English Studies at Waseda University, Japan. Law is widely published on the subject of nineteenth-century suspense novels and also the editor of two other Broadview Literary Texts series editions: Great Expectations (with Adrian Pinnington) and The Evil Genius.
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