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Hard Times (1854)

por Charles Dickens

Outros autores: Ver a secção outros autores.

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10,522131679 (3.53)481
Classic Literature. Fiction. HTML:

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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    CurrerBell: The Professor and Hard Times don't have all that much in common — and even less so do CB and CD have that much in common — but there's an interesting conversational exchange in The Professor, in the last chapter but one, that reminds me of the "reason vs. sensibility" theme in Hard Times.… (mais)
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People who brush aside Dickens because they think it's all going to be old, overhyped, crusty stories are missing out BIG TIME. Dickens is truly hilarious, and that wit paired with dynamic characters and multilayered tales make for positively riveting reading. I was laughing out loud throughout this book, like when Mrs. Sparsit calls Bounderby a "Noodle" behind his back, or when the robbery occurs but serious talk about it keeps getting derailed because no one can stay on topic and instead they start talking about snoring and such.
There were a couple tricky bits to get through, primarily just reading the phonetically written dialogue of Blackpool and Rachael. But I just looked at a quick Shmoop summary for those couple chapters and then read them again and that helped me immensely.
Everything else was just really REALLY good! I'm someone who enjoys recurring motifs and themes that can be picked out directly, and Dickens does an excellent job of presenting these to the reader without shoving it down their throat. In "Hard Times" Dickens presents a look at imagination and emotions VS a very factual, no-nonsense attitude, all set against the industrial city of Coketown. It's a very well-paced and put together novel, and I enjoyed it thoroughly! ( )
  deborahee | Feb 23, 2024 |
This is a proud moment. The moment in which I announce the conquering of one of my biggest literary-related fears. The finishing of a full-length Charles Dickens novel. Of course, I've read A Christmas Carol over and over---but that doesn't really count. It doesn't count because, for one thing, it's a novella. Secondly, everyone, everyone, knows the story. It's easy to read A Christmas Carol because you can fill in the hard stuff with visions of Mickey Mouse and Jiminy Cricket, if you really need to.

But Hard Times! Oh, the joy! (...and, Oh! The oxymoron!) It was just the right level of difficult for me. My knowledge of vocabulary was challenged, but I understood it all in context enough to laugh, smile, sigh, and nod my way through the whole wonderful book. I don't know why I've been so afraid to tackle 19th century classics. Every time I read one, I thoroughly enjoy it and come away feeling fulfilled and that I've spent my reading time wisely.

Book Description: "Set amid smokestacks and factories, Charles Dickens's Hard Times is a blistering portrait of Victorian England as it struggles with the massive economic turmoil brought on by the Industrial Revolution. Championing the mind-numbing materialism of the period is Thomas Gradgrind, one of Dickens's most vivid characters. He opens the novel by arguing that boys and girls should be taught 'nothing but Facts. Facts alone are wanted in life.' Forbidding the development of imagination, Gradgrind is ultimately forced to confront the results of his philosophy--his own daughter's terrible unhappiness. Full of suspense, humor, and tenderness, Hard Times is a brilliant defense of art in an age of mechanism."

My Thoughts: There is so much to enjoy about this book that I do find it difficult to really put it all into an orderly review. I was surprised by the many elements of mystery, romance--even a bit of edge-of-your-seat action at the end! I do wish some of the characters would have ended up with happier endings. I found that many of Grandgrind's "facts" were truths of his own making and it caused me to reconsider some of the things in my own life that I would consider "facts". I also chuckled, a lot, at the revelation of Bounderby's "origins".

The "unwanted wife" trope, reminiscent of both Jane Eyre and Silas Marner, was interesting to see. I like to think that Dickens was riffing off Bronte's work of seven years earlier and that Eliot, in turn, was inspired to include the theme in her work, seven years later.

I liked the idea that both Sissy and Stephen's wife were making big impacts on the characters without actually being present in the story. Stephen's wife, especially, was a major player---yet her time in the novel takes up but a few sentences. If it weren't for her though, many of the characters' lives would have taken entirely different directions.

A couple of my favorite quotes were:

"If he had only learnt a little less, how infinitely better he might have taught much more!"

Also, Dickens's fun play on Peter Piper: "If the greedy little Gradgrinds grasped at more than this, what was it for good gracious goodness' sake, that the greedy little Gradgrinds grasped at?" ( )
  classyhomemaker | Dec 11, 2023 |
Justly one of Dickens' least-read novels, Hard Times is a bit of an anomaly in several ways. His 10th novel, Dickens was writing in the journal Household Words in 1854, which gave him a lot less space than usual - this is perhaps a third the length of your average Dickens work. It's also a fairly straightforward story that strikes one more as a moral treatise than anything else. Aside from the famous circus sequence, the novel feels dry and a little perfunctory. The Lancashire characters' accents are also questionable at best, and indecipherable at worst.

George Bernard Shaw liked this book, and it's not hard to see why. This is perhaps Dickens' most blatantly political book, an argument against society becoming too rational and utilitarian, too capitalist at the extent of humanity. It was an argument that had already been greatly lost by 1854, and one we are still fighting today in 2016. In that sense, Hard Times still encapsulates Dickens' core philosophies. At the same time, this is never going to be one of the works for which CD is remembered. His sheer talent is still there, in spades, but it's notable that after this work, Dickens entered the third and final act of his career, in which his novels were allowed to take their time, and he'd never sound a dull note again. ( )
  therebelprince | Oct 24, 2023 |
I was had never heard anything about this book before. Thomas Gradgrind, a "fanatic of the demonstrable fact," who raises his children, Tom and Louisa. The extreme reliance on facts means you should not have flowers on your carpet, after all you don't walk on flowers.There is old woman who seems interested in Bounderby and says she visits Coketown once a year. At a crowded union meeting, the agitator Slackbridge accuses Stephen Blackpool of treachery because he will not join the union, and Stephen learns he is to be 'sent to Coventry' becoming an outsider. Mr. Gradgrind sees his daughter as his great success in being raised in his method. But there are disastrous consequences to his teachings. ( )
  nx74defiant | Oct 13, 2023 |
Dickens, it seems, repeatedly leans to the mass of the people, then draws back, because to commit himself would have been to wake up from the dream of harmony between classes.
(Introduction, page 35)

The indefatigable Mrs Sparsit, with a violent cold upon her, her voice reduced to a whisper, and her stately frame so racked by continual sneezes that it seemed in danger of dismemberment…
(page 257) ( )
  NewLibrary78 | Jul 22, 2023 |
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Whimsy, imagination, and sentiment have been banned in the Gradgrinds' upper-class household, but in Coketown, whose working class inhabitants fight for their very survival, the ban becomes a merciless creed. There, all that matters are the grinding wheels of production. Hard Times reflects a harsh world of grueling labor and pitiless relationships. But it is also a story of hope, of something elemental in the human spirit that rises above its bleak surroundings.
 

» Adicionar outros autores (74 possíveis)

Nome do autorPapelTipo de autorObra?Estado
Dickens, Charlesautor principaltodas as ediçõesconfirmado
Brereton, FrederickIntroduçãoautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Charles KeepingIlustradorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Chesterton, G.K.Introduçãoautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Fildes, LukeArtista da capaautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Foot, DingleIntroduçãoautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Grant, Richard E.Narradorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Greiffenhagen, MauriceIlustradorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Jarvis, MartinNarradorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Lesser, AntonNarradorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Odden, KarenIntroduçãoautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Richardson, JoannaPosfácioautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Sève, Peter deArtista da capaautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Schlicke, PaulEditorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Shapiro, CharlesPosfácioautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Sothoron, Karen HenricksonArtista da capaautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Tull, PatrickNarradorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Walker, FrederickIlustradorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Wilson, MeganDesigner da capaautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado

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Now, what I want is, Facts.
'I am three parts mad, and the fourth delirious, with perpetual rushing at Hard Times,' wrote Dickens in a letter to his friend and later biographer John Forster on 14 July 1854. (Introduction)
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She was a most wonderful woman for prowling about the house. How she got from story to story was a mystery beyond solution. A lady so decorous in herself, and so highly connected, was not to be suspected of dropping over the banisters or sliding down them, yet her extraordinary facility of locomotion suggested the wild idea. Another noticeable circumstance in Mrs. Sparsit was, that she was never hurried. She would shoot with consummate velocity from the roof to the hall, yet would be in full possession of her breath and dignity on the moment of her arrival there. Neither was she ever seen by human vision to go at a great pace.
There was a library in Coketown, to which general access was easy. Mr. Gradgrind greatly tormented his mind about what the people read in this library: a point whereon little rivers of tabular statements periodically flowed into the howling ocean of tabular statements, which no diver ever got to any depth in and came up sane. It was a disheartening circumstance, but a melancholy fact, that even these readers persisted in wondering. They wondered about human nature, human passions, human hopes and fears, the struggles, triumphs and defeats, the cares and joys and sorrows, the lives and deaths of common men and women! They sometimes, after fifteen hours' work, sat down to read mere fables about men and women, more or less like themselves, and about children, more or less like their own. They took De Foe to their bosoms, instead of Euclid, and seemed to be on the whole more comforted by Goldsmith than by Cocker. Mr. Gradgrind was for ever working, in print and out of print, at this eccentric sum, and he never could make out how it yielded this unaccountable product
For the first time in her life Louisa had come into one of the dwellings of the Coketown Hands; for the first time in her life she was face to face with anything like individuality in connection with them. She knew of their existence by hundreds and by thousands. She knew what results in work a given number of them would produce in a given space of time. She knew them in crowds passing to and from their nests, like ants or beetles. But she knew from her reading infinitely more of the ways of toiling insects than of these toiling men and women.

Something to be worked so much and paid so much, and there ended; something to be infallibly settled by laws of supply and demand; something that blundered against those laws, and floundered into difficulty; something that was a little pinched when wheat was dear, and over-ate itself when wheat was cheap; something that increased at such a rate of percentage, and yielded such another percentage of crime, and such another percentage of pauperism; something wholesale, of which vast fortunes were made; something that occasionally rose like a sea, and did some harm and waste (chiefly to itself), and fell again; this she knew the Coketown Hands to be. But, she had scarcely thought more of separating them into units, than of separating the sea itself into its component drops.
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Classic Literature. Fiction. HTML:

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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