Books

Hard Times

Charles Dickens (and others)

A damning indictment of Utlilitarianism and the dehumanising influence of the Industrial Revolution, Charles Dickens's Hard Times is edited with an introduction and notes by Kate Flint in Penguin Classics.

In Hard Times, the Northern mill-town of Coketown is dominated by the figure of Mr Thomas Gradgrind, school headmaster and model of Utilitarian success. Feeding both his pupils and family with facts, he bans fancy and wonder from any young minds. As a consequence his obedient daughter Louisa marries the loveless businessman and 'bully of humanity' Mr Bounderby, and his son Tom rebels to become embroiled in gambling and robbery. And, as their fortunes cross with those of free-spirited circus girl Sissy Jupe and victimized weaver Stephen Blackpool, Gradgrind is eventually forced to recognize the value of the human heart in an age of materialism and machinery.

This edition of Hard Times is based on the text of the first volume publication of 1854. Kate Flint's introduction sheds light on the frequently overlooked character interplay in Dickens's great critique of Victorian industrial society.

Charles Dickens is one of the best-loved novelists in the English language, whose 200th anniversary was celebrated in 2012. His most famous books, including Oliver Twist, Great Expectations, A Tale of Two Cities, David Copperfield and The Pickwick Papers, have been adapted for stage and screen and read by millions.

If you enjoyed Hard Times, you might like Dickens's Bleak House, also available in Penguin Classics.

'A masterpiece ... a completely serious work of art'
F.R. Leavis

The Waves

Virginia Woolf (and others)

A formally innovative work of modernist fiction, Virginia Woolf's The Waves is edited with an introduction by Kate Flint in Penguin Modern Classics.

More than any of Virginia Woolf's other novels, The Waves conveys the full complexity and richness of human experience. Tracing the lives of a group of friends, The Waves follows their development from childhood to youth and middle age. While social events, individual achievements and disappointments form its narrative, the novel is most remarkable for the rich poetic language that expresses the inner life of its characters: their aspirations, their triumphs and regrets, their awareness of unity and isolation. Separately and together, they query the relationship of past to present, and the meaning of life itself.

Virginia Woolf (1882-1941) is regarded as a major 20th century author and essayist, a key figure in literary history as a feminist and modernist, and the centre of 'The Bloomsbury Group'. This informal collective of artists and writers, which included Lytton Strachey and Roger Fry, exerted a powerful influence over early twentieth-century British culture. Between 1925 and 1931 Virginia Woolf produced what are now regarded as her finest masterpieces, from Mrs Dalloway (1925) to the poetic and highly experimental novel The Waves (1931). She also maintained an astonishing output of literary criticism, short fiction, journalism and biography, including the playfully subversive Orlando (1928) and A Room of One's Own (1929) a passionate feminist essay.

If you enjoyed The Waves, you might like Woolf's Mrs Dalloway, also available in Penguin Classics.

'A book of great beauty and a prose poem of genius'
Stephen Spender

'Full of sensuous touches ... the sounds of her words can be velvet on the page'
Maggie Gee, Daily Telegraph

Pictures from Italy

Charles Dickens (and others)

A delightful travelogue in the unique style of one of the greatest writers in the English language, the Penguin Classics edition of Charles Dickens's Pictures from Italy is edited with notes and an introduction by and notes by Kate Flint.

In 1844, Charles Dickens took a break from novel writing to travel through Italy for almost a year and Pictures from Italy is an illuminating account of his experiences there. He presents the country like a magic-lantern show, as vivid images ceaselessly appear before his - and his readers' - eyes. Italy's most famous sights are all to be found here - St Peter's in Rome, Naples with Vesuvius smouldering in the background, the fairytale buildings and canals of Venice - but Dickens's chronicle is not simply that of a tourist. Avoiding preconceptions and stereotypes, he portrays a nation of great contrasts: between grandiose buildings and squalid poverty, and between past and present, as he observes everyday life beside ancient monuments. Combining thrilling travelogue with piercing social commentary, Pictures from Italy is a revealing depiction of an exciting and disquieting journey.

In her introduction, Kate Flint discusses nineteenth-century travel writing, and Dickens's ideas about perception, memory and Italian politics. This edition also includes a chronology, further reading, notes and an appendix.

Charles Dickens is one of the best-loved novelists in the English language, whose 200th anniversary was celebrated in 2012. His most famous books, including Oliver Twist, Great Expectations, A Tale of Two Cities, David Copperfield and The Pickwick Papers, have been adapted for stage and screen and read by millions.

If you enjoyed Pictures from Italy, you might like Dickens's American Notes, also available in Penguin Classics.

Biography

Kate Flint is Professor of English at Rutgers University. Her published work includes The Victorians and the Visual Imagination (2000).