Hard Times: For these Times

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The Floating Press, May 1, 2009 - Fiction - 352 pages
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First published in 1854, Hard Times is a profoundly moving, articulate and searing indictment of the life-reducing effects of the industrial revolution, and certain aspects of enlightenment thinking. Set in the fictional midlands mill-town of Coketown, the narrative centers on the industrialist, Mr Thomas Gradgrind, whose belief in scientific utilitarianism skews his world view and is a motive force, carrying the narrative towards farce and tragedy. Gradgrind's no-nonsense abhorrence of 'fancy' extends to his implementing an ambitious education scheme that aims to exclude all 'nonsense' and keep the minds of young people focused squarely on facts. The book is ultimately an argument in favor of fancy and radical thinking, and a damning critique of industrial capitalism and its exploitation and repression of the workers whose lives were spent (literally) in sustaining the system.
 

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Contents

Chapter IV Men and Brothers
251
Chapter V Men and Masters
265
Chapter VI Fading Away
278
Chapter VII Gunpowder
301
Chapter VIII Explosion
324
Chapter IX Hearing the Last of It
348
Chapter X Mrs Sparsits Staircase
363
Chapter XI Lower and Lower
372

Chapter IX Sissys Progress
102
Chapter X Stephen Blackpool
117
Chapter XI No Way Out
127
Chapter XII The Old Woman
141
Chapter XIII Rachael
150
Chapter XIV The Great Manufacturer
165
Chapter XV Father and Daughter
175
Chapter XVI Husband and Wife
190
BOOK THE SECOND REAPING
200
Chapter I Effects in the Bank
201
Chapter II Mr James Harthouse
226
Chapter III The Whelp
241
Chapter XII Down
388
BOOK THE THIRD GARNERING
397
Chapter I Another Thing Needful
398
Chapter II Very Ridiculous
410
Chapter III Very Decided
428
Chapter IV Lost
444
Chapter V Found
461
Chapter VI The Starlight
477
Chapter VII WhelpHunting
495
Chapter VIII Philosophical
516
Chapter IX Final
528
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About the author (2009)

Charles Dickens, perhaps the best British novelist of the Victorian era, was born in Portsmouth, Hampshire, England on February 7, 1812. His happy early childhood was interrupted when his father was sent to debtors' prison, and young Dickens had to go to work in a factory at age twelve. Later, he took jobs as an office boy and journalist before publishing essays and stories in the 1830s. His first novel, The Pickwick Papers, made him a famous and popular author at the age of twenty-five. Subsequent works were published serially in periodicals and cemented his reputation as a master of colorful characterization, and as a harsh critic of social evils and corrupt institutions. His many books include Oliver Twist, David Copperfield, Bleak House, Great Expectations, Little Dorrit, A Christmas Carol, and A Tale of Two Cities. Dickens married Catherine Hogarth in 1836, and the couple had nine children before separating in 1858 when he began a long affair with Ellen Ternan, a young actress. Despite the scandal, Dickens remained a public figure, appearing often to read his fiction. He died in 1870, leaving his final novel, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, unfinished.

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