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34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A sobering book
George Orwell felt awkward for being middle class, once he started to make a bit of money as an author this added to his awkwardness and he spent a lot of time in dank and impoverished surroundings.

This book is largely autobiographic, it tells of his time spent with the homeless. Orwell would pretend to be a tramp, not just pretend - he would live as a tramp...
Published on 30 Jan 2007 by @GeekZilla9000

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Gradual build but some great settings
The novel is unmistakeably autobiographic, in so far as Orwell himself once felt sufficient empathy with the poor and disenfranchised that he mingled on the streets with the homeless, even occasionally living as a tramp. The measure of his awkwardness with his own middle class background together with his eventual financial success is reflected in the genuine sympathy he...
Published 13 months ago by Andrew Deakin


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34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A sobering book, 30 Jan 2007
By 
@GeekZilla9000 "I am completely operational a... (Doncaster, Yorkshire, UK.) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
George Orwell felt awkward for being middle class, once he started to make a bit of money as an author this added to his awkwardness and he spent a lot of time in dank and impoverished surroundings.

This book is largely autobiographic, it tells of his time spent with the homeless. Orwell would pretend to be a tramp, not just pretend - he would live as a tramp from time to time. It was his time as a tramp that feed the ideas in this book.

Orwell writes about the camaraderie in the tramp community with warmth, you can feel his fondness for the people he is writing about.

The tramp experience covers only the second part of the book.

The first part describes the life of Parisian hotel/restaurant kitchen workers. It isn't glamorous. It is a life devoid of love, warmth, and happiness. Boris is the star of the "Paris" part of this book.

This is not only one of Orwell's finest pieces of work, it is a book that changes how you feel about life. When I read this book I was struggling financially - but this book put things in perspective, and I still imagine scenes in this book when times are hard.

The contrast between the "Paris" and "London" aspects of the book couldn't be more different, even though both are concerning that corner of society who seem to have nothing.

Read this book on the bus/train on the commute to work and you'll get lost in the dark visuals it inspires. The book had many place names and people's names removed for fear of being libellous, at first this seems clumsy but you get used to it.
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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Down and Out - read it, 9 Nov 2006
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If ever there was a book deserving the title 'modern classic', this is it. A thought provoking and subtle collection of anecdotes that will make you laugh and out loud and balk at the extremes of poverty described in equal measure. The fact that Orwell avoides self indulgence and manages to evoke a genuine sense of compassion is truely remarkable and whatever your political orientation, having read this book it is hard to feel anything but respect for the man.

Despite its age, down and out still strikes a resonant chord in the modern world and while much has changed in the intervening years, there are still enough parralels with todays society to make you take stock of the world we live in.

I greatly enjoyed this book and recommend everyone to read it.
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42 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Poverty and dirt in the 1920�s, 15 Feb 2003
One word to describe this book would be "grimy" although that does not convey the wonderful writing style of Orwell- perhaps "almost glamorous grime" would be better. Never have I read such a good book that describes the poverty, dirt and atmosphere of the early twentieth century. The café/hotel culture of Paris and sharing tiny rooms with an assortment of characters in Paris seems to come alive with wit and verve. Similarly the boarding houses and homeless hostels "spikes" in London are gloomier but no less interesting.
Orwell introduces us to many eccentric people without the sexual overstatement that flawed Miller's Tropic Of Cancer- also set in Paris. The detail of the work washing pots and cooking food in the bowels of hotels in France is an eye opener as is the treatment of the homeless in London. Among the day-to-day living Orwell gives us some fascinating facts such as the (lack of) hygiene in the most expensive Parisian restaurants and that there were almost no homeless females in the 1920's.
Orwell's style is always gripping and we can see the beginnings of what he was later to refine further into 1984 and Animal Farm among other works. This is an excellent read that I would recommend to all- it has a wonderful mix of character, style, atmosphere and fact that is irresistible.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ORWELL'S FIRST MASTERPIECE, 26 Oct 1998
By A Customer
Most people are only familiar with Orwell through either Animal Farm or 1984, but Orwell has so much more to offer than just these two excellent books. Take Down and Out In Paris and London for example, it can be considered Orwell's first masterpiece as well as just his first book. In Down and Out In Paris and London the reader is given a glimpse at the dirty streets of both Paris and London in the 1930's, but through the unique eyes of Orwell. Not only does the reader see what it is to be "down and out" in these two world cities, but also the reader experiences why people become "down and out" through Orwell's narrative. We as readers learn that most of the people that are out on the street are not there by their own choice, but rather by the most unfortunate of circumstances. If one wants to experience Orwell, but not read the overread Animal Farm or 1984, read Down and Out In Paris and London because it is truly one of the early treats that Orwell produced. However, one must have an elementary background in French since many of the Paris scenes have French dialogue, and it would be most helpful to have this French knowledge to truly understand the book .
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The road before The Wigan Pier, 25 Sep 2002
By A Customer
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Orwell was ahead of his time, really, as his incredibly crisp and intelligent writing will show. Following his 'adventures' through abject poverty, he writes philosophically on his situation and with a very constructive and forgiving manner. He treats things more like an experiment than a terrible situation, his tone as if he did it all for a laugh. Mind you, some of the people who he meets are truly fascinating, in particular the through and through communist, who when totally drunk, becomes a straight faced patriot. Bozo, too, was a tragic figure, but a remarkable man with magnificent outlooks. Reading it made me feel like Orwell was still alive, just simple looking back on his days of youth with all the modern world around him. Instead, the rather depressing knowledge that everyone in that book is now dead. Orwell would have a interesting thing to say about that, I'm sure. One final word, the book is brilliant.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my favourite books, 4 Aug 2008
This is a beautiful piece of writing and a wonderful example of humanity. Orwell looks at some of the most downtrodden and neglected in society, lives with them and brings back this amazing document of their experiences and the elements that influence their lives. His gaze is crystal clear and his concern for these bedraggled souls is touching. An astounding book, please read it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Up There With 1984 And Animal Farm, 26 April 2001
After reading his two most popular works, I thought this may be a disappointment. How wrong I was! The Paris half is a superb portrait- the stories of the Saturday night in the bar and the calamity of his various restaurants are especially memorable. The London half, despite not scaling the heights of the earlier section, is also interesting. Overall the contrast between these two European capitals works very well. Highly recommended.
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22 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Downright outstanding!, 27 Aug 2002
By 
MR A HEPWORTH (Castleford, West Yorkshire United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
My copy of this book is now a sorry, ragged mess.
Thanks to the tireless work of the British comprehensive system, I lacked the prerequisite sociolagy smarts to properly dissect and analyse the dated bi-partisan frictions of Communism and Fascism that so underpin most of Orwell's blah blah blah...
I always hated those dry academic prefaces at the beginning of every Orwell book. Thay always stood - like a pompous party bore - between me and another one of Mr Orwell's frank and funny guide books to that long vanished world of his.
And by God, what a bloody awful place it was!
Desperate poverty, grinding unemployment, a gloomy pecking order of class riddled britons - many of them hoping for a war - just to relieve the monotony and stagnation of their society.
Hardly your average Dean Koontz.
But the thing that always had me wanting to barge past that pedagogic party bore and hurry away into that poor, battered book - was Orwell's voice. How simply and beautifully he brought to life those long-gone people who populated that prosperity-free period - Boris the crippled waiter, Bozo the street screever (pavement artist to you and I) even Paddy - the self pitying Irishman, too cowardly with hunger to steal a bottle of milk from a step.
It wasn't long before I too could feel the rock-hard convex mattress that Orwell clung onto in some flea-pit Doss House.
And surely I could almost hear the drunken murmur of a Parisian bar, as Orwell and his fellow denizen dishwashers settled in for another night's conference - courtesy of the coarse African wine.
But I've rattled on long enough.
The upshot is: that the myriad of Orwell snobs out there will tell you that this is: 'a technically flawed piece' or: ' a work full of oddly endearing flaws'.
Flaws? What bloody flaws? Where? Show them to me!
Don't listen to that tosh. Buy this book. Be transported through time. Laugh with shocked disbelief - yes laugh - at the horror of it all - safe in the comfort of your 21st century - because none of these blokes tell you how funny Orwell is!
Not many of those literary Larrys ever bother to describe the wonderful way that Orwell brings such comic irony and razor-sharp observation to those people and the abominable social situations that he and his tramping companions had to gamely and bravely struggle through.
I guarantee that if you fall sway to my rantings and buy this book, you will soon possess a sorry, ragged mess of your own.
Or you could always buy the latest Dean Koontz...
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Gradual build but some great settings, 8 July 2013
The novel is unmistakeably autobiographic, in so far as Orwell himself once felt sufficient empathy with the poor and disenfranchised that he mingled on the streets with the homeless, even occasionally living as a tramp. The measure of his awkwardness with his own middle class background together with his eventual financial success is reflected in the genuine sympathy he shows of the bond between the tramp fraternity.

This contrasts with the unfeeling and harsh atmosphere he describes of kitchen workers in the hotels and restaurants of Paris, Boris being a memorable character. My only disappointment was with the pace of the book which, for the first two thirds or so tends to drag, although to be fair Orwell has to build his main protagonists and the tramp community which he describes in such detail.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Imagery,Imagery,Imagery, 5 Jun 2010
By 
Derek Marten (Dublin,Ireland) - See all my reviews
I have read nearly everything by Orwell but this is by far my favourite!The imagery is so rich.The senses are tweaked all the time.I felt in some parts like I could directly smell what he described and could feel the heat in the kitchens.I really enjoyed this book because it takes you away to grimy, uncomfortable places you never want to be and when you close the book your safely home again!
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Down and Out in Paris and London (Penguin Modern Classics)
Down and Out in Paris and London (Penguin Modern Classics) by George Orwell (Paperback - 27 Sep 2001)
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