19 Dickens

19 Dickens - Charles Dickens, Hard Times: For These Times...

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Charles Dickens, Hard Times: For These Times (1854) Charles Dickens was born in London in 1812. His father was a clerk in the Navy Pay Office, but around 1820 was sent to debtor’s prison, and young Charles was forced to support the family by working ten-hour days pasting labels on jars of shoe polish. After a few months his father inherited £450 and was able to get out of prison, but Charles’ mother insisted that he carry on working at the blacking factory. He subsequently worked for 18 months in a law office, and then became a journalist. His first fiction, Sketches by Boz and Pickwick Papers, was serialized in 1836. By 1840 he was the most famous novelist in Britain, and a keen critic of child labor and the inequities of early industrial England. Hard Times was Dickens’ tenth novel. It is not generally rated among his best; Dickens wrote it in a hurry, primarily to revive the flagging sales of his periodical Household Words . It is famous for the heartless character Mr. Gradgrind and its portrayal of “Coketown,” a fictitious industrial city based on the real town of Preston . CHAPTER I - THE ONE THING NEEDFUL 'NOW, what I want is, Facts. Teach these boys and girls nothing but Facts. Facts alone are wanted in life. Plant nothing else, and root out everything else. You can only form the minds of reasoning animals upon Facts: nothing else will ever be of any service to them. This is the principle on which I bring up my own children, and this is the principle on which I bring up these children. Stick to Facts, sir!' The scene was a plain, bare, monotonous vault of a school-room, and the speaker's square forefinger emphasized his observations by underscoring every sentence with a line on the schoolmaster's sleeve. The emphasis was helped by the speaker's square wall of a forehead, which had his eyebrows for its base, while his eyes found commodious cellarage in two dark caves, overshadowed by the wall. The emphasis was helped by the speaker's mouth, which was wide, thin, and hard set. The emphasis was helped by the speaker's voice, which was inflexible, dry, and dictatorial. The emphasis was helped by the speaker's hair, which bristled on the skirts of his bald head, a plantation of firs to keep the wind from its shining surface, all covered with knobs, like the crust of a plum pie, as if the head had scarcely warehouse-room for the hard facts stored inside. The speaker's obstinate carriage, square coat, square legs, square
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This note was uploaded on 05/03/2010 for the course IHUM 69 taught by Professor Morris during the Spring '10 term at Stanford.

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19 Dickens - Charles Dickens, Hard Times: For These Times...

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