Hard Times

By Charles Dickens; Kate Flint (Editor)
(Penguin Books, Paperback, 9780141439679, 368pp.)

Publication Date: April 2003

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Description
The 'terrible mistake' was the contemporary utilitarian philosophy, expounded in Hard Times (1854) as the Philosophy of Fact by the hard-headed disciplinarian Thomas Gradgrind. But the novel, Dickens's shortest, is more than a polemical tract for the times; the tragic story of Louisa Gradgrind and her father is one of Dickens's triumphs. When Louisa, trapped in a loveless marriage, falls prey to an idle seducer, the crisis forces her father to reconsider his cherished system. Yet even as the development of the story reflects Dickens's growing pessimism about human nature and society, Hard Times marks his return to the theme which had made his early works so popular: the amusements of the people. Sleary's circus represents Dickens's most considered defence of the necessity of entertainment, and infuses the novel with the good humour which has ensured its appeal to generations of readers.



About the Author
Arguably one of the greatest writers of the Victorian era, Charles Dickens is the author of such literary masterpieces as A Tale of Two Cities (1859), A Christmas Carol (1843), David Copperfield (1850), and The Adventures of Oliver Twist (1839), among many others. Dickens' s indelible characters and timeless stories continue to resonate with readers around the world more than 130 years after his death. Dickens was born in 1812 and died in 1870.

Kate Flint is Provost's Professor of English and Art History at the University of Southern California.
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