Hard Times was first published in weekly serial form between April and August 1854, and comes just about half way through Dickens’s writing career. Because of this, critics have often seen Hard Times as not truly ‘Dickensian’: it lacks the sentimentality, jollity and grotesquery of the earlier novels, yet is not really as serious and probing as the later ‘social’ novels. But, instead of offering any further introductory comments about Hard Times, it will be better if I begin straightaway with the method of analysing a novel that I am going to use throughout this book.
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