Hard Times

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Broadview Press, Mar 12, 1996 - Fiction - 460 pages
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Despite the title, Dickens’s portrayal of early industrial society here is less relentlessly grim than that in novels by contemporaries such as Elizabeth Gaskell or Charles Kingsley. Hard Times weaves the tale of Thomas Gradgrind, a hard-headed politician who raises his children Louisa and Tom without love, of Sissy the circus girl with love to spare who is deserted and adopted into their family, and of the honest mill worker Stephen Blackpool and the bombastic mill owner Josiah Bounderby. The key contrasts created are finally less those between wealth and poverty, or capitalists and workers, than those between the head and the heart, between “Fact”—the cold, rationalistic approach to life that Dickens associates with utilitarianism—and “Fancy”—a warmth of the imagination and of the feelings, which values individuals above ideas.

Concentrated and compressed in its narrative form, Hard Times is at once a fable, a novel of ideas, and a social novel that seeks to engage directly and analytically with political issues. The central conflicts raised in the text, between government’s duty not to intervene to guarantee the liberty of the subject, and between quantitative and qualitative assessments of progress, remain unresolved today in the late or post industrial stages of liberal democracies.

 

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Contents

Section 1
5
Section 2
7
Section 3
17
Section 4
39
Section 5
41
Section 6
42
Section 7
49
Section 8
67
Section 23
244
Section 24
245
Section 25
273
Section 26
283
Section 27
315
Section 28
317
Section 29
327
Section 30
328

Section 9
85
Section 10
95
Section 11
104
Section 12
105
Section 13
117
Section 14
124
Section 15
129
Section 16
136
Section 17
143
Section 18
169
Section 19
175
Section 20
209
Section 21
221
Section 22
231
Section 31
334
Section 32
337
Section 33
355
Section 34
366
Section 35
407
Section 36
411
Section 37
423
Section 38
428
Section 39
436
Section 40
440
Section 41
446
Section 42
455
Section 43
459
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About the author (1996)

Graham Law, a Professor of English at Waseda University, Japan, is the author of a variety of books and articles on nineteenth-century and modern fiction; he has also edited two other Broadview Literary Texts series editions: Great Expectations (with Adrian Pinnington) and The Evil Genius.

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