Charles Dickens's Hard Times

Charles Dickens's Hard Times
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Format: Paperback / softback, 112 Pages
ISBN: 9781907776281
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Hard Times is Dickens’s shortest novel. Some early critics argued that it lacked the genius of the characterisation and humour that mark his greatest works. One of the 20th century’s leading critics, F.R. Leavis, believes, on the contrary, that Hard Times is Dickens’s sole contribution to the great tradition of the English novel, displaying a moral seriousness lacking elsewhere in his more entertaining work: “It has a kind of perfection as a work of art that we don’t associate with Dickens – a perfection that is one with the sustained and complete seriousness for which among his productions it is unique.” Nowadays, if not Dickens’s most readable book, it is certainly one of his most read. So was Leavis right? In this guide, one of Britain’s leading experts on Dickens, Uttara Natarajan, looks at the success of Hard Times, at why it was so much admired by the likes of John Ruskin and George Bernard Shaw, and at what Dickens was trying to do in this compelling and often shocking novel. A testament of his success, as Natarajan says, is the way in which the name of its principal character – Gradgrind – has long been absorbed into the English vocabulary, and continues regularly to be invoked as shorthand for a rigid adherence to fact. 

The author

Uttara Natarajan is Reader in English at the Department of English and Comparative Literature, Goldsmiths University of London, where she has been teaching and thinking about Dickens for the last fifteen years. She has published extensively on the Romantic essayist, William Hazlitt, and on other Romantic writers. Publications include Hazlitt and the Reach of Sense (1998), Metaphysical Hazlitt (with Tom Paulin and Duncan Wu, 2005), and The Romantic Poets: A Guide to Criticism (2007).

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Format: Paperback / softback, 112 Pages
ISBN: 9781907776281
Illustrations: 1 B&W, 5 Colour
Size: 4.3 in x 6.9 in / 109.22 mm x 175.26 mm