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Hard Times

Hard Times

Paperback Wordsworth Classics

By (author) Charles Dickens, Introduction and notes by Dinny Thorold, Illustrated by Fiona Walker, Illustrated by Maurice Greiffenhagen, Series edited by Dr. Keith Carabine

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  • Publisher: Wordsworth Editions Ltd
  • Format: Paperback | 272 pages
  • Dimensions: 126mm x 192mm x 18mm | 181g
  • Publication date: 1 January 1998
  • Publication City/Country: Herts
  • ISBN 10: 1853262323
  • ISBN 13: 9781853262326
  • Edition: New edition
  • Edition statement: New edition
  • Sales rank: 9,954

Product description

Unusually for Dickens, Hard Times is set, not in London, but in the imaginary mid-Victorian Northern industrial town of Coketown with its blackened factories, downtrodden workers and polluted environment. This is the soulless domain of the strict utilitarian Thomas Gradgrind and the heartless factory owner Josiah Bounderby. However human joy is not excluded thanks to 'Mr Sleary's Horse-Riding' circus, a gin-soaked and hilarious troupe of open-hearted and affectionate people who act as an antidote to all the drudgery and misery endured by the ordinary citizens of Coketown.

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Back cover copy

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.