Hard Times, by Charles Dickens

I always enjoy reading Dickens, and Hard Times was a treat, partly because it was relatively short. (He can go on and on sometimes.) Lots of insight into local economic, political, and personal lives of industrializing Britain in 1854. It is curious that there is so much social science interest over interpreting the 1850s period, a crucial period of industrialization, and here was this amazingly insightful observer writing thousands of pages of basically direct testimony of the lived experience.

The plotting is sentimental and melodramatic, but the “blowhard” Bounderby is memorable, and Louisa is quite a complex character in some ways, anticipating the notions of “alienation” and “demystification.” And what supporter of reading cannot but love the ending with Louisa perhaps dedicating her lives to fostering the “imaginative graces and delights.”.

About mkevane

Economist at Santa Clara University and Director of Friends of African Village Libraries.
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