I started this book late last year, then it disappeared. I was cleaning my bed and it reappeared. Hard Times, magic novel. The story begins with the paragraph above, spoken to a group of children in the fictional city of Coketown. In Coketown, children are taught to be perfectly logical and utilitarian, and things such as fiction, imagination, and poetry are considered blights on society. The primary advocates of this doctrine are Mr. Bounderby and Mr. Gradgrind, who run the school, and the bulk of the narrative follows them and Mr. Gradgrind's children as they reap the fruits of their utilitarian philosophy.
The book is split into three sections, 'Sowing', 'Reaping', and 'Garnering', based on Galatians 6:7, “Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” The plot is fairly complex (and I think Carlton might read this, so I won't spoil it), but Hard Times is a novel with an agenda. It's completely viscious to many of its characters, Mr. Bounderby in particular, and toward their overly-practical ideology. It also takes some pretty stinging swipes at factory conditions during the Industrial Revolution, the moral and social split between the rich and the poor, and the role of women in Victorian society.
It's also very funny, somewhat unexpected considering the topics at hand. Mr. Bounderby cuts a particularly ridiculous figure, as he spends most of the novel talking down to his formerly-aristocratic housekeeper and saying things like:
'By George!' said Mr. Bounderby, 'when I was four or five years younger than you, I had worse bruises upon me than ten oils, twenty oils, forty oils, would have rubbed off. I didn't get 'em by posture-making, but by being banged about. There was no rope- dancing for me; I danced on the bare ground and was larruped with the rope.'
Anyway, I enjoyed this book, but since I'm no good at deep analysis and I don't want to spoil the plot, I'll just end here.