Tag Archives: Hard Times

Literature Has Paul Ryan’s Number

Lewis Carroll, Charles Dickens, Chinua Achebe, John Milton, and Thomas Hardy see through men like departing Speaker of the House Paul Ryan.

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Trump & Bounderby: Cut Taxes or Die

In Monday night’s debate, Donald Trump warned that companies would take their business elsewhere if taxes and regulations on them weren’t lowered. As Dickens noted in “Hard Times,” businesses have been threatening this, like, forever.

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Speaker Paul Ryan in Literature

I’ve written a lot about Paul Ryan and his aspiration to be a John Galt figure. Now that he is Speaker of the House, I review other literary parallels I’ve drawn over the years.

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Why Baltimore Blacks Are Down and Out

Black poverty in Baltimore has racial causes that are invisible to most people. Dickens would understand.

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Clean Air Is Bad for the Nation?!

Republicans complaining about clean air regulations recall the Coketown mill owners in Dickens’ “Hard Times.”

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How Is Lit Useful? Let Me Count the Ways

A recent issue of “New Literary History” explores a number of ways that literature is useful.

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Dickens’ Children Expose Class Unfairness

Charles Dickens’ Sissy Jupe, in her innocence, could teach the GOP something about its insensitivity to the needs of the poor.

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E. W. Jackson, a Modern Day Bounderby

Virginia lieutenant governor candidate E. W. Jackson appears to be attempting a fraud worthy of Dickens’ Josiah Bounderby.

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Gradgrind Takes Over English Classes

The new Common Core State Standards are pushing literature out of English classes.

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Joe Biden Debates Bounderby

In last night’s, Joe Biden found himself up against a modern-day version of Dickens’ Bounderby from “Hard Times.”

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The Road Less Traveled? Nope

Perhaps some entrepreneurs need to believe their success is solely due to their own efforts, as Bounderby, Willy Loman, and the speaker of “The Road Not Taken” do.

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Who Is Your Favorite Dickens Character?

Characters from Dickens novels reside so deeply within us as to become virtual lifelong friends.

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Quixote’s Battle for Imagination

In a short poem about about Sancho Panza and one of the windmills, Scott Bates describes Don Quixote’s sidekick as common sense reality robbing life of imagination.

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It Sucks to Be Poor

Sherman Alexie’s “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” offers a response to those who want to blame the recession on the poor.

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What Fictional Fantasy Means

Having taught British Fantasy Literature for the first time last semester, I need to think back on it before it becomes a distant memory.    By reflecting publicly, I can share some of the insights I gained from the course. Two major things I learned are that (1) fantasy is an oppositional genre—by which I […]

Posted in Andersen (Hans Christian), Carroll (Lewis), Chaucer (Geoffrey), Coleridge (Samuel Taylor), Dickens (Charles), Grahame (Kenneth), Grimm Brothers, Haggard (Rider), Keats (John), Kipling (Rudyard), Rossetti (Christina), Shakespeare (William), Sir Gawain Poet, Tennyson (Alfred Lord), Tolkien (J.R.R.) | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments closed

A Dickensian Response to the Mine Rescue

As I write this, the last of the 33 Chilean miners has just been pulled to safety after spending two months underground in a situation that once seemed hopeless.   It appears that the entire world is celebrating, probably because we are all in need of hope.  Given how we are continually battered by economic […]

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Hard Times in 1854, Hard Times in 2010

I am teaching Charles Dickens’ Hard Times this week and it is disconcerting to see how applicable is still is to modern life. To be sure, one needs to be careful with comparisons. Industrial England in 1854 is not America in 2010. Dickens was writing about a world in which there were no air quality […]

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Forget Bootstrapism – We Need Each Other

  Always be suspicious of people who talk about pulling themselves up by their own bootstraps. The image is an excellent one since you can only rise if you have help from others. Yet many people think they are somehow diminished if they can’t claim to have risen on their own. Thanks to Dickens, there […]

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  • Literature is as vital to our lives as food and shelter. Stories and poems help us work through the challenges we face, from everyday irritations to loneliness, heartache, and death. Literature is meant to mix it up with life. This website explores how it does so.

    Please feel free to e-mail me [rrbates (at) smcm (dot) edu]. I would be honored to hear your thoughts and questions about literature.

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