Title: Hard Times
Author: Charles Dickens
Thomas Gradgrind, a wealthy retired merchant who was known to be a "fanatic of the demonstrable fact", raises his children in the same manner, forbidding them any pursuit of imagination and grounding them to the factual truths in all subjects. Gradgrind also runs a school on the same principles and philosophy of rationalism. One day, he allows Cecelia(Sissy) Jupe, an imaginative girl, admission into the school on charitable grounds after her father disappears from the circus he was working in. Gradgrind's two children grow up in their own confused manner, thanks to his active suppression of the imagination. Many events take place and the story meanders through the lives of Gradgrind, his children, their husbands and wives, the people in the town, Miss Sissy Jupe, and has wonderfully descriptive takes on the worker unions, the philosophy of rationalism, and so on. By the end, there is a classic turn around of Gradgrind and his fact-factory of a school by the gentle, imaginative, and kind-spirited Sissy Jupe.
So, what makes this classic Dickens novel any special?
1. It is a brilliant story. Dickens has always been an author whose descriptions I absolutely love. Reading a paragraph or two out of his books can literally paint the scene in front of your eyes. His novels are always of infinite, minute details that make it such a pleasure to read.
2. It satisfies the classic-hunger for the classic-lover. Old school classics have a way with how they take the story, and usually have dramatic set-ups. The language is another pleasing oddity with Dickens' classics, and you get enough of it here.
3. This book is incredibly short, considering that it's written by Dickens! Hard Times is a quick read compared to any other novel of Dickens. It is also has a different setting in the small, grim, industrial backdrop of Coketown, in contrast to the usual London country set up of most of his novels. And, this brings a fresh change to how we have usually seen the descriptions in his books, and also how the storyline is maneuvered. I really enjoyed it.
Hard Times is typical and atypical of Dickens, both at the same time. And this, according to me, is the best part about this book. We get our familiar Dickens, yet it is adapted to a different backdrop and stimulating storyline, and this freshens up our exposure to classics in a very wholesome manner! I loved it, and so will you (especially, if you love Dickens)!
Today, incidentally, happens to be the 150th anniversary of this grand and legendary author and litterateur. I feel happy and honoured to be co-incidentally finishing this wonderful tale today, and putting up this post. If you want to read more on the life and works of Charles Dickens, check out my post on this man who lived his great modern life!