Written deliberately to increase the circulation of Dickens's weekly magazine, "Household Words, Hard Times" was a huge and instantaneous success upon publication in 1854. Yet this novel is not the cheerful celebration of Victorian life one might have expected from the beloved author of "The Pickwick Papers" and "The Old Curiosity Shop." Compressed, stark, allegorical, it is a bitter expose of capitalist exploitation during the industrial revolution-and a fierce denunciation of the philosophy of materialism, which threatens the human imagination in all times and places. With a typically unforgettable cast of characters-including the heartless fact-worshipper
Mr. Gradgrind, the warmly endearing Sissy Jupe, and the eternally noble Stephen Blackpool-"Hard Times" carries a uniquely powerful message and remains one of the most widely read of Dickens's major novels.
About the Author
Arguably one of the greatest writers of the Victorian era, Charles Dickens is the author of such literary masterpieces as A Tale of Two Cities (1859), A Christmas Carol (1843), David Copperfield (1850), and The Adventures of Oliver Twist (1839), among many others. Dickens' s indelible characters and timeless stories continue to resonate with readers around the world more than 130 years after his death. Dickens was born in 1812 and died in 1870.
ROBERT D. SPECTOR is Professor Emeritus of English and coordinator of both the divisions of Humanities and of Communications, Fine and Performing Arts at Long Island University in Brooklyn.