Hard Times is Dickens's shortest novel, and arguably his greatest triumph. A useful appendix of the author's working notes, together with an enlightening introduction and full explanatory notes, will ensure that this edition becomes the obvious choice for anyone studying the novel. Paul Schlike is Lecturer in English at the University of Aberdeen.
Hard Times was published in 1854 and is set in Northern England in Coketown, a polluted and suffering place with smoke-filled factories and soulless workers who have been downtrodden by the cruel and heartless Thomas Gradgrind and Josiah Bounderby. The novel was published to mixed criticism, with many feeling at the time that it was too distressing. However, many modern critics have praised the book, calling it a gripping and revealing exploration of Victorian society.