George Orwell's vivid memoir of his time living among the desperately poor and destitute, Down and Out in Paris and London is a moving tour of the underworld of society. 'You have talked so often of going to the dogs - and well, here are the dogs, and you have reached them.' Written when Orwell was a struggling writer in his twenties, it documents his 'first contact with poverty'.
Here, he painstakingly documents a world of unrelenting drudgery and squalor - sleeping in bug-infested hostels and doss houses of last resort, working as a dishwasher in Paris's vile 'Hotel X', surviving on scraps and cigarette butts, living alongside tramps, a star-gazing pavement artist and a starving Russian ex-army captain.
Exposing a shocking, previously-hidden world to his readers, Orwell gave a human face to the statistics of poverty for the first time - and in doing so, found his voice as a writer.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 224 pages
- Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
- Publication Date: 03/01/2013
- Category: Memoirs
- ISBN: 9780141393032
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Showing 1 - 2 of 2 reviews.
Review by petterw
A fascinating account of life as a genuine poor person in Paris and London in the 1930s. Orwell is a master storyteller, and his matter-of-factly recording of events bring the lives of the down-and-out very close. It is particularily intriguing that this is not long ago, and it takes place in two cities I know well, one of them (London) very well. It puts my own experience with the cities in perspective, while at the same time raise a number of other issues in mye head, about begging, poverty, purpose of work and purpose of life, human dignity, issues that are contemporary. The essay also helps explain how George Orwell, as a "gentleman", could depict characters both in Animal Farm and 1984 the way he did.
Review by Helenliz
This is an interesting review of what it is like to be at the very bottom of society, living from hand t mouth and scratching a living. Probably of interest as a period piece rather than a riveting read. I can't imagine I'll red it again.