The difficulty of all colored “firsts” is well documented or at the very least easily imaginable, and need not be elaborated except to say that Pompey had an exceedingly hard time of things.

This is from The Intuitionist by Colson Whitehead. Does “have a hard time of things” mean same as when just saying “have a hard time”? Or is there another meaning?

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"Having a hard time of things" is an idiomatic way of saying someone is experiencing a troubling period, perhaps due to several factors.

This may be chiefly American English, as in British English I'm more used to hearing "a hard time of it", which means the same. To denote an extended period, some might even say "he's had a hard time of it of late".

In some contexts it could simply be said as "a hard time" without altering the meaning - you'll notice that Cambridge contains an example where "of it" is in parenthesis, but including these words does tend to imply more than just one specific troubling thing.

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