Red brick, machinery, and smoke-darkened chimneys. Reason, facts, and statistics. This is the world of Coke-town, the depressed mill town that is the setting for one of Charles Dickens's most powerful and unforgettable novels. Schoolmaster Thomas Gradgrind lives to impose his version of education: feeding the mind while starving the soul and spirit. Inflexible and unyielding, he places conformity above curiosity, and logic over sentiment, only to have his philosophy warp and destroy the lives of his own family. HARD TIMES is Dickens's scathing portrait of Victorian industrial society and its misapplied utilitarian philosophy. And Thomas Gradgrind is one of his most memorable characters. Filled with the details and wonders of small-town life, Hard Times is also a daring novel of ideas - and ultimately, a celebration of love, hope, and the limitless possibilities of the imagination.