In Hard Times
, Dickens illustrates the condition of England through his depiction of the fictional northern city of Coketown. Among its inhabitants are Thomas Gradgrind, the utilitarian headmaster who attempts to impose his rigid worldview on his family circle, and the uncaring businessman Mr Bounderby. Their materialist philosophies, as opposed to the world of “fancy”, or imagination, are tested throughout the novel, which also explores workers’ conditions in factories, trade unions and the spurious use of statistics.
Perhaps the most polemical of his major novels – in which hard-biting satire, moving drama and exuberant comedy find a very succinct and powerful expression – Hard Times
is possibly the best introduction to the world of Charles Dickens.
'He belongs to that brilliant school of English novelists whose finely sketched and eloquent portrayal of the world have revealed more political and social truths than all the professional politicians, journalists and moralists put together.' Karl Marx
Read an excerpt from Hard Times
By the same author: