Regular price: $21.31
Buy Now with 1 Credit
Buy Now for $21.31
Despite the title, Dickens's portrayal of early industrial society is less relentlessly grim than that in novels by contemporaries such as Elizabeth Gaskell or Charles Kingsley.
Hard Times weaves the tale of Thomas Gradgrind, a hard-headed politician who raises his children Louisa and Tom without love and to have no empathy, their lives completely devoid of beauty, culture, or imagination. Only after a series of crises does their father realise that the manner in which he raised his children has ruined their lives.
Other characters include Sissy, the circus girl with love to spare who is deserted and adopted into the Gradgrind family, as well as the honest mill worker Stephen Blackpool and the bombastic mill owner Josiah Bounderby.
The story is a vehement condemnation of industrialisation and its dehumanising effects on its workers and communities in mid-19th-century England. George Orwell praised Dickens and the novel for its 'generous anger.'
Concentrated and compressed in its narrative form, Hard Times is at once a fable, an audiobook of ideas, and a social story that seeks to engage directly and analytically with political issues.
It may be one of Dickens's shortest works but it is also one of his triumphs.
One of eight children, Dickens came from a very poor family, with his father eventually being sent to debtor's prison. At the age of 12, Dickens was forced to start work in a blacking factory in order to help clear the family debt. His troublesome childhood likely contributed to some of the novel's ideas and lent him a sympathetic voice for the poor.
Due to his vivid depictions of the poverty-stricken, 'Dickensian' has ingrained itself in the English language, becoming the choice word to describe an unacceptable level of poverty.
Martin Jarvis is one of Britain's most admired actors. His audiobook output is legendary. He is described in Vanity Fair as 'the Olivier of audiobooks' and 'genius of the Spoken Word' in the LA Times. Award-winning recordings range from titles by Charles Dickens, P.G. Wodehouse, and Michael Frayn to thrillers by Jeffrey Archer, Wilbur Smith, Ian Fleming, and Dick Francis.
Martin Jarvis has starred in many acclaimed West End and National Theatre productions and received the Theatre World Award as Jeeves on Broadway. Numerous UK television appearances encompass Law & Order, Doctor Who, Endeavour, Inspector Morse, and The Forsyte Saga. In America: Murder She Wrote, Numb3rs, Cosmos and Walker, Texas Ranger. Films include Titanic, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and Wreck-It Ralph. Videogames: 'Alfred' in Batman, 'Finn McMissile' in Cars.
Martin is invested by HM the Queen as Officer of Order of the British Empire (OBE).
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Jefferson on 09-11-11
A Classic: Head vs. Heart in an Industrial Hell
This Audiobook of Charles Dickens??? novel Hard Times read by Martin Jarvis is excellent. I found myself by turns laughing, groaning, or tearing up, depending on how Dickens channeled by Jarvis wanted to make me feel.
The story is fast-paced and full of wonderful Dickensian descriptions (of buildings and people) and deliciously grotesque or charmingly good characters and plenty of admirably biting social commentary and satire directed at the awful union of Utilitarianism (fact-based rationalization of human beings in the service of the greater good) with the Industrial Revolution (chimneys spewing filthy writhing snakes of smoke, machinery moving up and down like imprisoned maddened elephants, workers dehumanized as ???Hands,??? all of it polluting the world while enriching the owners??? class). It is the angriest, most moving, and least corny book I???ve read by Dickens??? So many memorable scenes, as when ???Girl Number Twenty??? is asked to define a horse in the M???Choakumchild classroom, or when with bitter irony the factory mill windows lit at night are described as looking like fairy palaces, or when Josiah Bounderby???s mother finally sets the record straight.
Martin Jarvis is in fine form throughout, giving each character his or her own perfectly suitable voice and manner of speaking and reading Dickens??? words with great sensitivity and understanding and emotion and clarity. Hearing his Bounderby???s coarse bluster, Stephen Blackpool???s sad self-effacement, Tom Gradgrind???s sour self-pity, Sissy Jupe???s pure sympathy, James Harthouse???s amoral aristocratic bon mots, Mr. Sleary???s kind showman lispings, or any of the other characters is great pleasure.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
By Elizabeth H on 09-30-17
Martin Jarvis is always superb!
The magnificent Martin Jarvis lovingly brings each of the characters to life in an unforgettable performance. I've never yet been disappointed by him or by Dickens. Highly recommended.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Lipsticklula on 07-21-06
Fantastic book - wonderfully read
Martin Jarvis brings this marvellous book to life with his extraordinarily skilful reading. Can't recommend highly enough.
14 of 14 people found this review helpful
By Zen Kite on 06-03-09
Martin Jarvis brings Dickens to life
I've tried so hard to like Dickens, but I find I just can't read him.
Now I don't have to. Martin Jarvis does the job wonderfully well. His characterisations are simply superb. He brings the story to life marvellously.
This is a superb way to get into Dickens. I'll definitely be checking the others out.
11 of 11 people found this review helpful