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Lobby 2. Welcome The Reading Room Reading Challenges, 2010 topic #6
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Subject: "25. Hard Times by Charles Dickens" Previous topic | Next topic
Mesg #554 "25. Hard Times by Charles Dickens"
Author alissaameth     Click to send private message to this author Click to view this author's profile Click to add this author to your buddy list
Author Info Member since Dec 31st 2006
1631 posts
Date Wed Mar-31-10 10:12 PM
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Sun Apr-18-10 03:25 PMby alissaameth

Fiction, 217 pages.
Re-read.

Hard Times, one of Dickens's shorter works, tells about a few key people who live in Coketown--a factory town, a place of Fact. The Gradgrind family is raised by the father's philosophy of education: Fact, Fact, Fact, and don't you dare think of Fancy. Similarly, the "self-made man" Mr. Bounderby, a friend of Gradgrind's, dismisses Fancy because it never helped him when he was growing up in the gutter. The story essentially tells about the consequences of this ideology on the children who are raised under it. (E.g. the "dumb" girl that was raised in a circus is the most compassionate and warm, whereas the Gradgrind kids have had all happiness sucked out of them.) There is a sub-plot about one of the factory Hands who seeks a divorce, but finds that only the rich can afford divorces. This sub-plot becomes more and more integrated with the main plot as the story goes on and the characters cross paths.

Some themes: education, Fact vs. Fancy, childhood, unhappy marriages, factory work (and unionizing)... It's a rich book, and makes me think about many different subjects as I'm reading. Since I am studying to be a teacher, I was particularly interested in its portrayal of education.

This was my 3rd or 4th reading of this novel. I absolutely love it! I'll probably re-read it again in the future. When I was reading it this time, I came across several sentences that I remembered reading and loving before, and they still tickle me. The first one comes in early on, in the third chapter: "If the greedy little Gradgrinds grasped at more than this, what was it for good gracious goodness' sake, that the greedy little Gradgrinds grasped it!" People that I read this to don't seem to think it's good art, but it's so funny! Of course, the whole novel isn't written like this. (Though there are a couple of characters with difficult-to-read accents.) The second sentence that I remembered vividly is: "There was a piece of ornamental water immediately below the parapet, on the other side, into which Mr. James Harthouse had a very strong inclination to pitch Mr. Thomas Gradgrind junior..." It's funny!

However, one thing I admire about this novel is that it is humorous, but it is also heart-breaking. Look at the title! There are two unhappy marriages in it. Louisa Gradgrind, one of the main characters, is a tragic figure. Her brother, though portrayed less sympathetically, also breaks my heart. When the father realizes that his children never had a childish childhood, he regrets what he's done. So while some parts of it are written with a somewhat flippant (and charming) air, I never get the sense that the narrator is just trying to think of clever rhymes. Rather, there is a gripping substance to the story itself, that isn't lost by introducing a sentence with 15 alliterative Gs in it.

Towards the end of this novel, I was thinking about how I could see Dickens using different literary techniques. For instance, at the very end he tells the reader what ends up happening in the characters' futures by saying something along the lines of: "...and so-and-so thought about futurity. But how far ahead could he see? Could he see that he would one day bla bla bla...? It would be so." I found myself thinking, "Maybe this is something I could use some time." I don't mean this in a demeaning way (because I love the novel), but I think the mechanics are more readily noticed. Some stories I read and think "how did the author do that!?" But in this one, I could pinpoint more. (However, that might be because I've read it 3-4 times, and studied it twice in different classes. I see more in it every time.)

This is the only work I've read by Dickens. Since I love it so much, I think I should read more of his work! In my British Literature class right now, I get the sense that many of the students don't like this novel because it's "slow and boring." It's not a super-fast paced adventure novel, but I never feel like it's stuck in one place, personally. I love the characters, and will definitely be returning to them in the future. Yes, I really must read more Dickens.

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Alissa's 2010 Book List [View all] , alissaameth, Wed Dec-16-09 04:20 PM
  1. Tortilla Flat by John Steinbeck, alissaameth, Jan 03rd 2010, #1
2. King Lear by William Shakespeare, alissaameth, Jan 12th 2010, #2
RE: 2. King Lear by William Shakespeare, RavenCorbie, Jan 21st 2010, #5
      RE: 2. King Lear by William Shakespeare, alissaameth, Jan 23rd 2010, #8
3. Mr Midshipman Easy by Captain Frederick Marryat, alissaameth, Jan 18th 2010, #3
RE: 3. Mr Midshipman Easy by Captain Frederick Marryat, Stavechurch, Jan 26th 2010, #10
      RE: 3. Mr Midshipman Easy by Captain Frederick Marryat, alissaameth, Jan 30th 2010, #13
4. The Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare, alissaameth, Jan 20th 2010, #4
RE: 4. The Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare, blzrgurl71, Jan 21st 2010, #6
      RE: 4. The Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare, alissaameth, Jan 23rd 2010, #7
5. Households and Holiness by Carol Meyers, alissaameth, Jan 24th 2010, #9
6. Awakening Genius in the Classroom by Thomas Armstron..., alissaameth, Jan 29th 2010, #11
7. Titus Andronicus by William Shakespeare, alissaameth, Jan 30th 2010, #12
8. With Christ in the School of Prayer by Andrew Murray, alissaameth, Jan 31st 2010, #14
9. Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift, alissaameth, Feb 05th 2010, #15
RE: 9. Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift, RavenCorbie, Feb 06th 2010, #16
      RE: 9. Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift, alissaameth, Feb 06th 2010, #17
           RE: 9. Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift, RavenCorbie, Feb 07th 2010, #18
10. Music as a Way of Knowing by Nick Page, alissaameth, Feb 08th 2010, #19
11. Confessions of a Thug by Captain Meadows Taylor, alissaameth, Feb 10th 2010, #20
12. The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare, alissaameth, Feb 10th 2010, #21
13. And Sarah Laughed by John H. Otwell, alissaameth, Feb 12th 2010, #22
14. The Interesting Narrative by Olaudah Equiano, alissaameth, Feb 12th 2010, #23
15. The Merry Wives of Windsor by William Shakespeare, alissaameth, Feb 18th 2010, #24
16. Drama as a Way of Knowing by Paul G. Heller, alissaameth, Feb 26th 2010, #25
17. She by H. Rider Haggard, alissaameth, Feb 26th 2010, #26
RE: 17. She by H. Rider Haggard, tianne, Mar 24th 2010, #35
      RE: 17. She by H. Rider Haggard, alissaameth, Mar 24th 2010, #36
18. Measure for Measure by William Shakespeare, alissaameth, Mar 01st 2010, #27
RE: 18. Measure for Measure by William Shakespeare, tianne, Mar 23rd 2010, #34
19. Dance as a Way of Knowing by Jennifer Donohue Zakka..., alissaameth, Mar 10th 2010, #28
20. The Story of an African Farm by Olive Schreiner, alissaameth, Mar 16th 2010, #29
RE: 20. The Story of an African Farm by Olive Schreiner, RavenCorbie, Mar 16th 2010, #30
21. All's Well that Ends Well by William Shakespeare, alissaameth, Mar 17th 2010, #31
22. Guanya Pau by Joseph J. Walters, alissaameth, Mar 19th 2010, #32
23. Releasing the Imagination by Maxine Greene, alissaameth, Mar 20th 2010, #33
24. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, alissaameth, Mar 31st 2010, #37
25. Hard Times by Charles Dickens, alissaameth, Mar 31st 2010 #38
RE: 25. Hard Times by Charles Dickens, tianne, Apr 16th 2010, #40
      RE: 25. Hard Times by Charles Dickens, alissaameth, Apr 18th 2010, #44
26. Translation of the Letters of a Hindoo Rajah by Eli..., alissaameth, Apr 07th 2010, #39
27. Between the Acts by Virginia Woolf, alissaameth, Apr 18th 2010, #41
28. Pericles by William Shakespeare, alissaameth, Apr 18th 2010, #42
29. Visual Arts as a Way of Knowing by Karolynne Gee, alissaameth, Apr 18th 2010, #43
30. The Missionary: An Indian Tale by Lady Morgan, alissaameth, Apr 20th 2010, #45
31. The Book of Leviticus by Gordon J. Wenham, alissaameth, Apr 21st 2010, #46
32. Cymbeline by William Shakespeare, alissaameth, Apr 27th 2010, #47
33. Walk Leviticus! by Jeffrey Enoch Feinberg, Ph.D., alissaameth, Apr 27th 2010, #48
34. Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fa..., alissaameth, Apr 27th 2010, #49
35. The Real Me: Being the Girl God Sees by Natalie Gra..., alissaameth, May 13th 2010, #50
36. The Winter of Our Discontent by John Steinbeck, alissaameth, May 21st 2010, #51
37. Arrow Book of Poetry by Ann McGovern, alissaameth, May 21st 2010, #52
38. Joshua by Joseph F. Girzone, alissaameth, May 21st 2010, #53
39. How to Search the Scriptures by Dr. Fuchsia Pickett, alissaameth, May 26th 2010, #54
40. Paths of Glory by Humphrey Cobb, alissaameth, Jun 04th 2010, #55
41. Skate by Michael Harmon, alissaameth, Jun 10th 2010, #56
42. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck, alissaameth, Jun 10th 2010, #57
43. Let Me Out! I'm a Prisoner in a Stained-Glass Jail ..., alissaameth, Jun 14th 2010, #58
44. Under Pressure by Frank Herbert, alissaameth, Jun 18th 2010, #59
45. The Lonely Now by Nicky Cruz, alissaameth, Jun 23rd 2010, #60
46. A Child is Born by Lennart Nilsson, alissaameth, Jul 01st 2010, #61
47. Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers, alissaameth, Jul 05th 2010, #62
48. The Harvest Gypsies by John Steinbeck, alissaameth, Jul 05th 2010, #63
49. A Hilltop in Tuscany by Stephanie Grace Whitson, alissaameth, Jul 12th 2010, #64
50. Working Days: The Journals of The Grapes of Wrath b..., alissaameth, Jul 21st 2010, #65
51. The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis, alissaameth, Jul 21st 2010, #66
XX. 3 Charlie Brown comics by Charles M. Schulz, alissaameth, Jul 21st 2010, #67
XX. The Authoritative Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watters..., alissaameth, Jul 31st 2010, #68
52. No Plot? No Problem! by Chris Baty, alissaameth, Aug 11th 2010, #69
53. Scottish Highlanders in Colonial Georgia by Anthony..., alissaameth, Sep 02nd 2010, #70
54. Death in Venice by Thomas Mann, alissaameth, Sep 02nd 2010, #71
55. The White Plague by Frank Herbert, alissaameth, Sep 17th 2010, #72
56. The Oresteia of Aeschylus trans. by Robert Lowell, alissaameth, Oct 02nd 2010, #73
RE: Alissa's 2010 Book List, Erin_M_H, Nov 19th 2010, #74
RE: Alissa's 2010 Book List, alissaameth, Nov 19th 2010, #76
      RE: Alissa's 2010 Book List, bpratt, Dec 05th 2010, #77
           RE: Alissa's 2010 Book List, alissaameth, Dec 07th 2010, #78
57. To Teach: The Journey, in Comics by Ayers & Alexand..., alissaameth, Nov 19th 2010, #75
58. The Rainmaker by John Grisham, alissaameth, Dec 09th 2010, #79
59. Hidden Empire by Kevin J. Anderson, alissaameth, Jan 01st 2011, #80
60. For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway, alissaameth, Jan 01st 2011, #81

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