Hard Times

by Charles Dickens | Literature & Fiction |
ISBN: 9780192833679 Global Overview for this book
Registered by wingApoloniaXwing of Prenzlauer Berg, Berlin Germany on 2/3/2010
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Journal Entry 1 by wingApoloniaXwing from Prenzlauer Berg, Berlin Germany on Wednesday, February 03, 2010
Hard Times - For These Times (commonly known as Hard Times) is the tenth novel by Charles Dickens, first published in 1853. The book appraises English society and is aimed at highlighting the social and economic pressures of the times.

The novel is unusual in that it did not contain illustrations; nor is it set in or around London (both usual in Dickens' novels). Instead the story is set in the fictitious Victorian industrial Coketown, a generic Northern English mill-town partially based upon 19th-century Preston.

Dickens' reasons for writing Hard Times were mostly monetary. Sales of his weekly periodical, Household Words, were low, and he hoped the inclusion of this novel in instalments would increase sales. Since publication it has received a mixed response from a diverse range of critics, such as F.R. Leavis, George Bernard Shaw, and Thomas Macaulay, mainly focusing on Dickens' treatment of trade unions and his post-Industrial Revolution pessimism regarding the divide between capitalistic mill owners and undervalued workers during the Victorian era.

The novel follows a classical tripartite structure, and the titles of each book are related to Galatians 6:7, "For whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." The interpretation of this quote being, what ever is effected upon or done in the present will have a direct effect on what happens later. Book I is entitled "Sowing", Book II is entitled "Reaping", and the third is "Garnering."

Critics have had a diverse range of opinions on the novel. Renowned critic John Ruskin declared Hard Times to be his favourite Dickens work due to its exploration of important social questions. However, Thomas Macaulay branded it "sullen socialism", on the grounds that Dickens did not fully comprehend the politics of the time. This point was also made by George Bernard Shaw, who decreed Hard Times to be a novel of "passionate revolt against the whole industrial order of the modern world." Shaw criticized the novel for its failure to provide an accurate account of trade unionism of the time, deeming Dickens' character of Slackbridge, the poisonous orator as "a mere figment of middle-class imagination."

F. R. Leavis, in his controversial book, The Great Tradition, described the book as essentially being a moral fable, and awarded it the distinction of being a work of art, decreeing it the only significant novel of Dickens worth scrutinizing.

Walter Allen, in an introduction to an alternative edition, characterised Hard Times as being an unsurpassed "critique of industrial society", which was later superseded by works of D. H. Lawrence. Other writers have described the novel as being, as G. K. Chesterton commented in his work Appreciations and Criticisms, "the harshest of his stories"; whereas George Orwell praised the novel (and Dickens himself) for "generous anger."

Wikipedia

Journal Entry 2 by wingApoloniaXwing at Un-Convention, BookCrossing Convention -- Controlled Releases on Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Released 9 yrs ago (4/13/2010 UTC) at Un-Convention, BookCrossing Convention -- Controlled Releases

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For the Portuguese BC Convention.

Journal Entry 3 by Meg72 from Ílhavo, Aveiro Portugal on Tuesday, May 11, 2010
I saved this one for me at the Portuguese Convention. I really do enjoy reading Charles Dickens, he is one of my favourite authors, when it comes to classics.

Journal Entry 4 by Meg72 at Ílhavo, Aveiro Portugal on Saturday, October 09, 2010
It is always nice to get back to the classics and this one doesn´t disappoint Dicken´s fans. There is always a gloomy atmosphere through the pages, but I like the realistic scenario. After all, things were really tough in those days! Not a book to read when you are down, but food for thought.

Journal Entry 5 by Meg72 at Ílhavo, Aveiro Portugal on Sunday, January 02, 2011

Released 9 yrs ago (1/2/2011 UTC) at Ílhavo, Aveiro Portugal

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Off to a new home, not far away. Hope you enjoy the read, marcenda!

Journal Entry 6 by Marcenda at Lisboa - City, Lisboa (cidade) Portugal on Wednesday, January 12, 2011
Thanks a lot, Meg!

Journal Entry 7 by Marcenda at Lisboa (city), Lisboa (distrito) Portugal on Sunday, April 07, 2019
Dickens's writing is awesomely modern. One can always draw parallels between his books and current events. That, I suppose, is one of the requirements of a classic. I was carried away by the story and could hardly put it down.

Journal Entry 8 by Marcenda at Carcavelos, Lisboa (distrito) Portugal on Monday, April 08, 2019

Released 10 mos ago (4/8/2019 UTC) at Carcavelos, Lisboa (distrito) Portugal

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Off to OBCZ Conchas LFL.

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