Hard Times
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Hard Times

3.46 of 5 stars 3.46  ·  rating details  ·  27,855 ratings  ·  1,352 reviews
Coketown is dominated by the figure of Mr Thomas Gradgrind, school headmaster and model of Utilitarian success. Feeding both his pupils and family with facts, he bans fancy and wonder from any young minds. As a consequence, his obedient daughter Louisa marries the loveless businessman and 'bully of humanity' Mr Bounderby.
Paperback, 268 pages
Published October 23rd 1998 by Penguin Books (first published 1854)
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This book is, for me, Dickens' best. I loved every second of it, the darkness of Tom's steady descent into drinking and gambling were brilliant and there were several times I found myself simply rereading a few paragraphs over and over, in awe at them. (The end of Chapter XIX, The Whelp, is something I hold in very high regard as possibly one of his best pieces of writing ever.) I want to deal with the characters individually from here, since I feel they are all very important.

Mr Gradgrind - Fac...more
Henry Avila
Mr. Thomas Gradgrind , a very wealthy, former merchant, retired, only believes in facts, mathematics, two plus two, are four, facts are important, facts will lift you into prosperity, fact are what to live by, they are the only thing that matters, everything else is worthless ... knowing. He sets up a model school, were the terrorized students, will learn this ( and other subjects that are unfortunately, also taught), the eminently practical man, teaches his five children at birth ... facts! The...more
Bryce Wilson
Not Dicken's best work, but still, ya know, Dickens.

It's pretty much "Lets light some straw men on fire!" day in Dickens land. Presumably Hard Times was chosen as the title because "Let's Kick Some Deserving Fuckers In The Teeth" was already taken.

Still I don't know anyone I'd rather watch burn people and deliver teeth kicks then Dickens.
Aug 06, 2007 Cori rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: audio book lovers
From my blog:

NOTE: I listened to the audio version.

For some reason, I could never get into Dickens. I was an English major, for goodness' sake. I tried David Copperfield. I tried the Pickwick Papers. I tried Oliver Twist. All meh, and I didn't finish any of them. I have, however, enjoyed many a film adaptation of his novels, including Bleak House (fan. tas. tic.) and Nicholas Nickleby, so I knew that it couldn't be that bad. Anyway, my friend Hillary has recommended Hard Times for a long time,...more
MJ Nicholls
Hard Times opens with the usual Dickens comic brio and sabre-toothed satire. Mr Gradgrind’s pursuit of Facts, Facts, Facts deadens his daughter Louisa’s sense of Fancy and humour, until she relents to a marriage to Mr. Bounderby—surely the progenitor of this Monty Python sketch. As the novel moves into its second half, the melodramatic and laboured Steven Blackpool narrative distracts from the more poignant story of circus orphan Sissy and the Gradgrinds. Steven’s phonetic Lancastrian dialect (w...more
Click here for Charles Dickens Disclaimer

I'm not even sure where to start with this book. First of all, Hard Times is one of the shorter, and lesser known of the Dickens novels. At only around four hundred pages, it almost seems like a novella compared to his other tomes of one thousand pages or more. The book has some interesting characters. We have Thomas Gradgrind, the obstinate disciplinarian, who raises his children to use their head and facts in all things and to never "wonder" because th...more
A slim and compact tale whose characters and story packs a powerful punch, Dickens’ Hard Times is as vitriolic an indictment against the institutionalized teaching model Paolo Friere scathingly criticized as the “banking concept” in his Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Josiah Bounderby is delectably drawn, as is the crooked and colorful characters of James Harthouse, Mrs. Sparsit, and our cold and calculated heroine, Louisa Gradgrind. Dickens, at first, seems to forgo his typical habit of idealizing w...more
"Now, what I want is Facts. Teach these boys and girls nothing but Facts. Facts alone are wanted in life. Plant nothing else, and root out everything else. You can only form the mind of reasoning animals upon Facts: nothing else will ever be of any service to them."
Mr. Gradgrind, Hard Times

"We don't need no education
We dont need no thought control"

Another Brick in the Wall (Part II) - Roger Waters, Pink Floyd
Roger Waters' lyrics could almost be a direct response to Mr. Gradgrind's ridiculous...more
Craig Robb
They say no-one reads a book to get to the middle. Well, for Hard Times, perhaps they should, so disappointing the end turns out to be, this is one of the examples of how literature has improved over the years. Having read Oliver Twist, A Christmas Carol and A Tale of Two Cities and enjoying them all immensely I tried Hard Times, having read here and elsewhere that the book represented Dickens at his best. It does not, and to say that it does devalues his other work. The book is filled with shal...more
Heba Zaki
من المؤكــد فقدانى للكثير من المتعة الوجدانية و الثراء الفكرى حينما وقعت بين يـــدى ~ مترجمة ~ و لكن هذا لم يمنعنى من تبنى أبطالها بتفاصيلهم الصغيــرة فى مخيلتــى و تلهفى البالغ أثناء متابعة الأحداث

.. كنت على يقيـــن منذ البداية ان الحيــاة لا تستقيم بـ الحقائق / الواقعية وحدها .. انما تحتــاج لــ مشاعــر فياضة من الحب / الأمــل / الرحمة لتخرج أجمل ما فى بطونها !
I have had this book on my shelf since my wife studied it at college in 1979. I had avoided reading it (although I've enjoyed every Dickens Book I've read). I suppose I associated Hard Times with Hard Book. Who wants to read about industial strife? It's grim oop t'North etc. The way round this for me was the relatively painless outlay of 95p on a download of the book on to the MP3 to listen to while running. The skill of the narrator immediately transports you into the world of Mr Gradgrind's sc...more
This novel actually really surprised me. Many reviews on Goodreads liken the title to the reading experience, one of pushing through long details and descriptions. Actually, this book has done the opposite for me. My reading of Victorian books has been few and far between. Middlemarch was a great novel, one which I am glad I read, and I recently bought a 16-book Dickens Collection in an attempt to get some more of his under my belt.

Having only read A Tale of Two Cities previously, I was aware th...more
There is a character who appears in all of Charles Dickens' books that I can't stand. He is the noble worker, the lower class moral compass, and he is consistently a source of Dickens' naive idealism, which, for a jaded soul like me, is a constant impediment to full enjoyment of Dickens' excellent prose.

Bob Cratchett, Scrooge's clerk in A Christmas Carol, is the most insufferable of his kind, Joe Gargery, Pip's Uncle in Great Expectations, is the most sufferable of his kind, and Stephen Blackpoo...more
سارة درويش
It was amazing

بالنسبة لي إني أقرأ بالانجليزية :D

طبعاً ما قرأتش النسخة الـ 500 صفحة وزيادة ، قرأت النسخة المختصرة اللي كانت بتدرس لطلاب 3 ثانوي في سنة من السنين

عجبتني أوي رغم كآبتها .. لكن عجبني إنه خالف بعض توقعاتي في حاجات كتير .

حسيت انه كان ممكن يقول أكتر في شخصية سيسي وتطور ويكون دورها أكبر من كده .

بردو كان نفسي أعرف ليه كان مقاطع والدته وعايش بعيد عنها .

قد يكون الكلام دا كله متوضح في النسخة اللي مش مختصرة !
Joana Marta
Ai Dickens Dickens…

I can’t believe it took me this long to start reading your books. Now I just want to have them all near me and read them one after another, just like a crazy fan.

Hard Times takes place in the imaginary town of Coketown, built by Dickens. An Industrial town, where we meet the eminently practical Thomas Gradgrind and Josiah Bounderby, the first defined as an utilitarian, who teaches how not to “wonder”, and the latter as a picture of materialist thinking. And then we have litt...more
This is Dickens’ very best at what he does the very best. The so-over-the-top, and yet painfully true-to-life characters, (by virtue of the wonderful names alone: Bounderby, M’Chokumchild, Blackpool) are so precisely defined that they drive the narrative and put such a spotlight on elements of human pride. The story, then, is in the descriptions.

In some books, you can skip the lengthy descriptions, as they just provide realistic detail or clues into the nature of the character’s reaction or his...more
Pauline Montagna
The quintessential Victorian novelist, Charles Dickens, set most of his work in London and the home counties where he grew up. In Hard Times, however, Dickens ventures away from London into another urban environment – a mill town in Lancashire. Dicken’s Coketown is based on Preston, now part of greater Manchester, where he went in 1853 to report on a long-standing strike and gather material for a novel about the industrial system he abhorred. However, if you are looking for a detailed descriptio...more
Anne Hawn Smith
I have been going back and reading all the Charles Dickens' books which I have either missed, or not read recently. I don't know how I missed this one, as some consider it one of his best.

The book begins with a speech by Thomas Gradgrind about, "facts, just plain facts," to girl #20, a pupil in his school. She is a child of traveling horse riders, who move from place to place. He is upset that she can't define the word,"horse" by only using facts. (One can just hear Jack Webb in the background a...more
I read this book after watching a DVD version with my family. From what I understand, it isn't considered one of his best books. The characters are fairly sketchy, the moral tone is fairly heavy-handed, and there is little of the poignant hilarity of Dickens at his best. IT is set in a factory town and the general theme has to do with the misery of the working class in contrast to the relative affluence and callousness of the upper middle class who benefits from their toil.

The other theme was t...more
Here's how much of an impression this book made on me: When scanning my (physical) bookshelves adding books to my Goodreads account, I completely forgot that I had read this book (just a couple months ago) and stuck it on my to-read "shelf" rather than read. Then just now driving home a random train of thought led me to think of Dickens, and how I had only read one Dickens novel, but then I had this vague memory that in fact I had read a second Dickens novel. I could only remember the barest det...more
Hard Times stands apart from other Dickens novels -- shorter in length, simpler in plot, and sadder in tone. The action is set in a mill town in the north of England and presents some expected social issues: working conditions, legal discrimination against the poor, labor unions. The main theme of the novel, however, is education. Thomas Gradgrind brings up his children and pupils without any recourse to imagination or emotion. In his household, "I wonder . . ." is a phrase that merits punishmen...more
Reading Charles Dickens was a fascinating experience. Though I read this six years ago in a senior English class, I can still remember a couple of my favorite passages and even their approximate page numbers because of how clever and telling they were to the characters and story; the schoolchildren as "little pitchers" philosophy of Thomas Gradgrind, or Josiah Bounderby, in a heightened state of egomania, ready to explode himself into his own portrait (metaphorically, of course). These two, and...more
Shortest Dickens book I've ever read (listened to actually), but VERY good. I love the come-uppance of Josiah Bounderby in the end! I also like Dickens' way of pointing out that the perfect ending would have been for Louisa to have gotten married and had a bunch of kids, but that is NOT what ended up happening. But then he did give her a happy ending, after all, just a different one. I especially love the way Dickens names his characters. You never have to wonder whether somebody is going to be...more
Mohammed Arabey
I study it At my last High School year...
It was seriously Hard Times :)
I loved the story and lived in my head the places,the characters ... I even create a cast for the novel to live it :)
Moira Russell
I first read this in grad school. That is what Alanis Morissette would call ironic.
Hard Times is Charles Dickens shortest work at 277 pages and is unlike his other novels because it is set in a fictional city called Coketown, an industrial city with its pollution and social disparities. The book features trade unions and the divide between capitalism and labor. The book is structured as three parts, Sowing, Reaping and Garnering based on the Bible verse, “as a man sows, so shall he reap” and on The Book Of Ruth who garners what is left in the field after the reaping is done. T...more
Very few writers have the effect that Dickens has on me. I get goosebumps, and almost cry, I find him intense, and I love his novels for the different directions he takes with his stories. This is probably the shortest one I have read of his books, and it leaves a big question mark with what he opens up with this book. How to educate? How, really? Is there a way? is there a possible model? How much is education, and how much is temperament? Maybe one way of doing things has one effect on a perso...more
Matt Guion
Genre: Classic

Synopsis: Thomas Gradgrind, schoolmaster and father of five, is firm on the idea that what should be taught in the home and the schoolroom is facts, nothing but facts. Fancy of any kind is to be discouraged in the strongest possible terms, and it is with this philosophy that he runs his school and raises his children. It seems to him to be the only way to survive in the world, and it is only as the years pass that he begins to see the consequences of such a philosophy in his life...more
Hard Times is a story set in a fictional Lancashire milltown in the 1840s in which we are presented to the Gradgrind family, followers of the pilosophy of Utilitarianism. Thomas Gradgrind, the father, is the owner of a 'model school', where pupils, most of them children who work in the mills, are taught by learning by heart a large quantity of facts, in a mechanic fashion. Gradgrind believes in this educational system and applies it at home, with his own children, not realizing that a good educa...more
A great book by the great author Dickens. While reading this book, I experienced different emotions, quiet various indeed. The beginning was pretty interesting to me. I was really astonished while reading the first chapters, for I have never thought of such schools existing, or probably have existed. "Facts alone are wanted in life. Plant nothing else, and root out everything else". The emphasis on the concepts of this school and complying to them was very strict and absurd, which made me exclai...more
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The Readers Revie...: * Hard Times by Dickens Reading Schedule 21 58 Sep 16, 2014 07:54PM  
Whelp-Is the term Ironic? 4 52 May 03, 2014 10:23PM  
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A prolific 19th Century author of short stories, plays, novellas, novels, fiction and non-fiction; during his lifetime Dickens became known the world over for his remarkable characters, his mastery of prose in the telling of their lives, and his depictions of the social classes, morals and values of his times. Some considered him the spokesman for the poor, for he definitely brought much awarenes...more
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A Tale of Two Cities Great Expectations A Christmas Carol Oliver Twist David Copperfield

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“There is a wisdom of the head, and... there is a wisdom of the heart.” 397 likes
“She was the most wonderful woman for prowling about the house. How she got from one story to another 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.” 54 likes
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