Some persons hold, he pursued, still hesitating, that there is a wisdom of the Head, and that there is a wisdom of the Heart. I have not supposed so; but, as I have said, I mistrust myself now. I have supposed the Head to be all-sufficient. It may not be all- sufficient; how can I venture this morning to say it is! If that other kind of wisdom should be what I have neglected, and should be the instinct that is wanted, Louisa—
I’ve heard it said that this is an atypical Dickens novel. It’s shorter, I’ll give them that. It’s angrier, I’ll give them that, too. But the very heart, yes, heart of it, is pure Dickens. This book comes out strongly on the side of the heart, celebrates the imagination, and warns us that the mechanization of society and the human spirit have consequences. George Bernard Shaw disparagingly said Hard Times was a book of “passionate revolt against the whole industrial order of the modern world.” I, on the other Hand, give my best Dean Moriarty “Yes, yes, yes!” to that statement. YES, Mr. Dickens. You tell ’em!
Although written in 1854, Hard Times is such a tonic for these times, too. I’m not saying that we have to go back to washing our clothes by hand, or remove our modern plumbing. I’m writing this on a computer, by golly! What I do mean is that we shouldn’t be so quick to take every statistic, data point, and number as gospel. Use your heart and your head. Use the part of your brain that takes off into wild flights of fancy, that loves process not product, that makes you feel whole.
Also, don’t fear that this book is all doom and gloom! It’s very funny, especially what Dickens does with the character of Mrs. Sparsit. There is a teacher named Mr. M’Chokumchild for goodness sakes! It will also make you want to run away and join the circus 🙂