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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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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 3 Jan 2003
By 
S. A. Richmond (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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Most of Orwell's books deal with many of the major issues of the 1930-1940s. Poverty is something he's written extensively about, and this book is one of his best. The characters he met are fantastic, and this descriptions of the French kitchen are a joy to read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 12 Aug 2014
brilliant read. makes you feel cold and downtrodden just reading a few pages
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars down and down, 27 May 2004
reviewed by Bogdan Tiganov, author of 11 Year Old Refugee and Romanian For Sale
Down and Out is an interesting book. autobiographical, yes, and also, like most Orwell, a hard hitting political exposee.
the problem is that we don't really care that much about the characters and maybe we're not supposed to. the result is that some of us may come away from reading this appreciation the hardships that beggars and down and out people go through. whatever the case, this is a gripping read, and stylistically perfect, the Orwell trademark. and remember: this is never boring.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I hope restaurant standards have improved, 1 Aug 2000
By A Customer
this book is a real eye opener on what it was like to be broke. As a dishwasher (plongeur) in Paris, and a tramp in London, Orwell reminisces. The disgusting hygene behind the scenes of posh French restaurants, and the pointless 'tramping' of the homeless in the UK, may have been redressed by modern society; on the other hand, the sceptism raised by Orwell can still be applied to the poverty trap today.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, although lacks the polished style of his later works., 16 Jun 2011
This is an entertaining little book. Orwell transforms what would normally be a somewhat heavy issue - poverty - and broaches it wittily through a selection of bizarre encounters and anecdotes. It is kind of an "insider's guide" to poverty: unless you've been poor, you would never recognize the fascinating inner workings and conventions of pauperism portrayed here. However, the book is rambling and mildly repetitious, with little in the way of structure or underlying plot. Generally, the author gathers together a bunch of stories, then caps them off with an explanation of what should be drawn from them, before treating the next batch. This is fine, but if you know Orwell's later novels, might leave you a little underwhelmed.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Peerless insight into poverty, 23 July 2010
By 
AK (London) - See all my reviews
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This book is Orwell's autobiographical account of life in the Paris slums and amongst London tramps. Do not expect a happy story or happy endings for most of the characters - it will though, give you quite an insight of how poverty works and why it is so hard to shake it, once one falls on hard times.

The book starts with the Paris section and at a time just before the author falls on hard times. While it sounded dire to start off with, the transition in some way makes it much worse very rapidly and soon thereafter while not out for good, the author finds himself in a situation that seems practically impossible to climb out of. The description of the situation and the challenges associated with poverty are some of the most eloquent statements for more tolerance towards the less fortunate in our society.

The London bit points to some differences with Paris (harder to starve but conditions worse otherwise) but presents the same grim picture. There are a couple of chapters in the book, where Orwell tries to make sense out of why these conditions persist and why so little is don to end them. Some readers might find these very communist and be put off by them, on the other hand, Orwell does get some things right - namely the complete lack of understanding of people who have never been poor of what poverty really is like and how difficult it is to climb out of it once one finds oneself there (a message coming out much clearer from the chapters describing the situation than te summary ones analysing it).

This is most certainly not a feelgood book and unlike with the Animal Farm: A Fairy Story or Nineteen Eighty-four there is no (black / hidden) humour to be found here. It is heartrending and at times depressing but it is a book worth reading and I would very much recommend it to people across the political spectrum.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Its a hard world - thankfully no more, 10 Dec 2009
By 
bouncee (East Sussex, UK) - See all my reviews
This is a real eye opener on what it was like to be poor in London and Paris in the 1930s. It's a world away from the comfortable lives the vast majority of us have now, in the West at least. Thankfully conditions endured have largely disappeared from those 2 cities although no doubt they well, endure, in lots of places worldwide. Great characters full of spirit doing all they can to survive form one day to the next. Another book in a similar vein that I recommend is Jack London's The Abyss, about London's East End in the 1900s.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Good Book, 15 Aug 2014
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It is a good book to read and is good for insight.
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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very real storey., 15 Mar 2000
By A Customer
I found this to be a very gritty, very real storey. It is powerfull, brutal and beautifull. There is a scean in which a French character "Charley" is telling the Author of the night when he raped a young girl being prostituted against her will, which I think is one of the most emotion envoking sceanes I've ever read in a book. Also I liked the insight into a time before I was born. There is a chapter where Wells describes the slang of the streets, and some of the words exist in a changed form today. The book has lighter moments as well, I very much enjoyed it.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Definately not Down & Out after almost 80 years, 21 Nov 2003
Fantastic book! Loved 1984 so decided to start reading Orwell from the beginning, starting with this one the first published (although his Burma novel was written earlier). The book is incredible in its content, you know that it is completely obsolete, that Paris and London today is nothing like the cities Orwell described, and the stories he tells are when thought about out of context, insignficant and uninteresting. However, the book captivated me from beginning to end, and it is Orwell's incredible writing which is timeless and incredible. If you are a fan of Orwell's more popular work, I implore you to read down and out. Never have I learnt so much from a book that taught me so little.
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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 - 5 Jun 2003)
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