Hard Times

Front Cover
Penguin, Jul 1, 2008 - Fiction - 336 pages
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Dickens’s scathing portrait of Victorian industrial society. 

Coketown, the depressed mill town that is the setting for one of Charles Dickens’s most powerful and unforgettable novels, is all brick, machinery, and smoke-darkened chimneys. Its emblematic citizen, the schoolmaster Thomas Gradgrind, lives to impose his version of education: facts and statistics that feed the mind while starving the soul and spirit. Inflexible and unyielding, he places conformity above curiosity and logic over sentiment, only to see his philosophy warp and destroy the lives of his own family.

Filled with memorable characters and scenes, Hard Times is a daring novel of ideas—and, ultimately, a celebration of love, hope, and imagination.

With an Introduction by Frederick Busch 
and an Afterword by Jane Smiley


From the Paperback edition.
 

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Contents

Introduction
vii
List of Characters
5
Sowing
7
The One Thing Needful
9
Murdering the Innocents
10
A Loophole
16
Mr Bounderby
21
The Keynote
28
Men and Brothers
143
Men and Masters
151
Fading Away
158
Gunpowder
170
Explosion
183
Hearing the Last of It
195
Mrs Sparsits Staircase
204
Lower and Lower
208

Slearys Horsemanship
34
Mrs Sparsit
48
Never Wonder
55
Sissys Progress
61
Stephen Blackpool
69
No Way Out
74
The Old Woman
82
Rachel
87
The Great Manufacturer
95
Father and Daughter
100
Husband and Wife
108
Reaping
115
Effects in the Bank
117
Mr James Harthouse
130
The Whelp
138
Down
217
Garnering
223
Another Thing Needful
225
Very Ridiculous
231
Very Decided
240
Lost
249
Found
258
The Starlight
267
Whelphunting
277
Philosophical
288
Final
295
Afterword
301
Selected Bibliography
311
A Note on the Text
315
Copyright

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About the author (2008)

Charles Dickens (1812–70) had a happy childhood until age twelve when, due to his father’s confinement in debtors’ prison, he was forced to leave school to work in a factory. He taught himself shorthand and worked as a parliamentary reporter until his writing career took off with the publication of Sketches by Boz (1836) and The Pickwick Papers (1837). As a novelist and magazine editor, Dickens had a long run of serialized success, including Oliver Twist (1838), David Copperfield (1850), A Tale of Two Cities (1859), and Great Expectations (1861). In later years, ill health slowed him down, but he continued his popular dramatic readings from his fiction to an adoring public, which included Queen Victoria. At his death, The Mystery of Edwin Drood remained unfinished.

Frederick Busch (1941–2006) was the author of eighteen works of fiction, including Closing Arguments, Girls, and The Mutual Friend, a novel about Charles Dickens. The winner of numerous awards, he was the Fairchild Professor of Literature at Colgate University.

Jane Smiley is an American novelist. In addition to her many novels (including Ten Days in the Hills, Horse Heaven, and A Thousand Acres), she wrote a short biography of Charles Dickens for the Penguin Lives series (2001).


From the Paperback edition.

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