When Louisa Gradgrind, trapped in a loveless marriage, falls prey to an idle seducer, the crisis forces her father, Thomas, to reconsider his cherished utilitarian philosophy. The development of the story reportedly reflects Dickens’s growing pessimism about human nature and society.
This novel — Dickens’ shortest — originally ended up on my TBR list because of its connection to and critique of utilitarianism. I took an entire class last semester on theories of social justice, including utilitarianism. Dickens takes on a much more negative view of utilitarianism than I ever heard during the course of that course, and I was surprised at how cynical Dickens is. It was largely missing the humor and constructive critique I have come to expect from Dickens.
I am still trying to decide if my dislike of this novel comes from Dickens’ actual content or the reading by Patrick Tull. I recently read and loved another book by Dickens read by a different narrator whereas both books read by Tull have not captured my attention or my affection. While I do still plan on reading more Dickens, I think I’ll skip any audiobooks by Tull from here on out.
(Note: The cover at right is merely for my own reference. I listened to the audiobook rather than reading a printed copy, but could not find a copy of the audiobook’s cover.)
- Dickens, Charles. Hard Times. Read by Patrick Tull. Prince Frederick, MD: Recorded Books, 1987. Originally published 1854. Audiobook. 13 hrs and 9 mins (321 pgs). ISBN: 9780141439679. Source: Library.