Concentrated and compressed in its narrative form, Hard Times is at once a fable, a novel of ideas, and a social novel that seeks to engage directly and analytically with political issues. The central conflicts raised in the text, between government's duty not to intervene to guarantee the liberty of the subject, and between quantitative and qualitative assessments of progress, remain unresolved today in the late or post industrial stages of liberal democracies.
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I love reading and listening to books, especially fantasy, science fiction, children's, historical, and classics.
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.
I have read numerous Dickens and this is another great story with all the fantastic characters that Dickens is known for. Martin Jarvis narration is first rate. Jarvis does a great interpretation of Mr. Bounderby and the funniest Mr. Sleary. Sleary comes at the end of the book, but it is worth the download just to hear Sleary. I read this book long ago, but listening to DIckens is really the key, as you understand the character much more by listening. I know the book confronts the English society of the times, but this book like many Dickens books is about the characters. If you don't know Dickens this is a good starter book as it is far shorter than any of his other books. Most of Dickens books are 800 to 1000 pages while this one is in the 300 hundred range. I think this book will hook one into being a Dickens and Jarvis fan.
"Fantastic book - wonderfully read"
Martin Jarvis brings this marvellous book to life with his extraordinarily skilful reading. Can't recommend highly enough.
This is another masterpiece from the master storyteller. Although this is not his finest work (it peters out towards the end). Nevertheless the story moves along at a good pace drawing the listener into the lives of this carefully intertwined group of classic Dickens characters.
As ever Martin Jarvis produces a tour de force of characterisation which enhances the story wonderfully.
"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.
I absolutely loved this audiobook. Having never read any Dickens, and having failed to read A Christmas Carol once again, I decided to give Audible a try. I am overwhelmed by Martin Jarvis's wonderful ability to bring a story to life, by Dickens' fantastic storytelling, and by audiobooks in general. I have just downloaded Great Expectations, and hope to soon be brave enough to read Dickens myself.
A thoughtful book ,showing peoples feelings,and how they may or may not change,beautifully read.
"Brilliantly read - gritty social commentary"
Yes - this reading by Martin Jarvis was excellent. He was totally convincing, although the book was hard going at times.
The social comment was the most interesting - Dickens painted an especially bleak picture of society, the hypocrisies and the conditions.
He was excellent as Bounderby, but also as Mrs Sparset. It's hard to choose as he was convincing throughout the reading.
No - but that is because there was a lot to think about in the reading, so I didn't want to rush the book.
Excellent - I can thoroughly recommend this version.
"Moving and Topical"
The passion that Dickens displays towards the human condition. He paints a picture that contains realistic characters while still providing an almost grotesque humour.
This book should be recommended to our Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, and all Australians as a portrait of how cruel Economic Rationalism can be.
"Wonderful story and narration is superb"
Simply wonderful narration. The voices Martin Jarvis brings to the book brings the whole thing to life. Enjoyed it so much, one of the best audiobooks Ive listened to.
"Dickens and Jarvis Triumph Again"
I may be biased as Coketown is based on my hometown of Preston but I found the story, the characters and the way Martin Jarvis brings those characters to life a triumph. It may not be Dickens' deepest or intense plot but I'm sure any Dickens' fan will enoy this book. I'm looking forward to the next Jarvis narration of Dickens!
"Hardly a barrel of laughs not surprisingly"
I really enjoyed this relatively short audio book. I thought it was quite an appropriate message for these times actually. So much of the intricacies and wonders of life are subjected to cold, logical calculations and reasoning, causing slight embarrassment should it slip that perhaps some of it might just be unexplainable or incalculable. Another brilliant reading by Martin Jarvis, with an abundance of amazing characterisations. What a talent he has for this!
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