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Hard Times (Oxford World's Classics) Paperback – July 15, 2008
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Top Customer Reviews
But then I read it.
Hard Times isn't like Dickens's other novels, but I don't think that it has any less heart than those masterpieces. In fact, Dickens endured himself much further to me with this novel as he has his characters perform Thomas Carlyle's enduring philosophy.
The novel follows the Gradgrind family who is raised adhering to FACTS and living in a society which worships the manufacturing machine. As the novel progresses, connections are made and broken, and the characters come to the realization that there is much more to reality than the material facts.
Hard Times is told so compassionately. The reader cares for these people and their tragic lives. The story is also told with biting humor that still cuts at today's society (this novel feels really modern), and the underlying philosophy is one which is so needed in our post-modern world. I would certainly recommend this novel to fans of Dickens and to fans of the truly literary novel.
Over the past 50 or so years I have heard this particular work referred to as "not Dickens' best," and "A minor work by Dickens," and other comments along those lines. I am really not in a position, nor do I have the ability to proclaim or rank this author's work one way or the other. Dickens for me is like any other author...I either like it or I do not like it; it either is a joy to read or it is not. Now I have read this short novel at least five times over the years and listen to several versions on CD and Tape. The best, minor Dickens' work, timeless classic, not pertinent in today's world, a mere political rant? Well I don't know. I do know that it is one of my favorites and do look forwarded to reading it again down the road. I am one of those horrid and probably misguided individuals who sort of make their own mind up about anything I read, and more or less ignore the pontifications of those that are suppose to know about such things. All that being said though, I cannot look you in the eye and state that I have ever read one story; one word by this author that I did not enjoy right down to the tip of my toes. He delights me.
The setting of course is in Victorian England and the Industrial Revolution is in full tilt.Read more ›
This is Dickens's shortest novel, about a third of the length of each of his previous four. Themes, subplots and characters are introduced without being fully explored. The author was perhaps feeling the constraints of writing in installments for a periodical, although he was well used to doing that. This relative brevity, together with the youth of some of the central characters, make this book a good introduction to Dickens for young readers.
There are the large dollops of Victorian melodrama and the reliance on unlikely coincidences that mar much of Dickens's work. Also the usual tendency for characters to become caricatures and to have names that are a little too apt (a teacher called Mr. McChoakumchild?).
The respected critic F.R. Leavis considered "Hard Times" to be Dickens's masterpiece and "only serious work of art". This seems to me wildly wrong, but such an extreme opinion may prompt you to read the book, just so that you can form your own opinion.
I read it because I had just finished "The Jungle" by Upton Sinclair, which deals with the plight of Chicago factory workers, and I wanted to compare the two. Sinclair's book has greater immediacy. It takes you much closer to the suffering of the workers.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
One of his easier reads. A gorgeous reap what you sow tale. Dickens at his most simple best. The last chapter is killer! Don't miss this one. Read morePublished 7 days ago by safetyharbordog
Dickens knew well the dark, satanic mills of 19th century England. Besides being great stories, many of his novels slammed the downside of the industrial revolution that had made... Read morePublished 23 days ago by Bob Newman
I can appreciate Dickens and what people see in his writing but I personally am not a huge fan. It drags on a bit and although I see his points, feel that he could move the plot... Read morePublished 27 days ago by Amanda L Henry
Not one of Dickens' best IMHO, although I know some teachers like it. (Read A Tale of Two Cities or Great Expectations instead!). Read morePublished 3 months ago by Deals Girl
This is the first book that I have read by Charles Dickenson. I really enjoyed the book! I'm going to read all of them.Published 4 months ago by robert hinkle
The book was somewhat of a polemic against some of the prevailing social philosophies of the day, and this trumped the character development present in many of Dickens' more well... Read morePublished 5 months ago by Robert J. Player