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on 26 March 2017
A very interesting book about the time Orwell spent living in Paris as a young struggling writer and the jobs he had to take to survive and pay his way.
The latter part of the book is about his return to London and how he survived day to day living on the streets with tramps and vagabonds and relying on charity for meals and a bed for the night.
This happened before he made his name as an author.
I read this book in an afternoon, I just could not put it down, a very good read!!
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on 2 November 2017
In essence this is a docu-book of someone living in poverty and living with those in poverty coupled with some social commentary and suggestions for improvements. I never felt that he was in dire straits, rather giving the impression of carrying out an experiment than living the life. Despite that, it gave great insight to the live in poverty - one of enforced hunger, enforced idleness and one devoid of women/homelife with the option one of slave labour.
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on 17 December 2014
Eric Arthur Blairs description of being down and out on/ in BOTH Paris and London, is a evocative, powerful image of a life most of us, thankfully could never dream of, however, sad to say in this day and age, we are seeing a return of the type, substitute tramps for Romanians and other eastern European people, who come here to seek work but fail to find it, however
Social authority ensures that life is not as bad today as those described I'm Orwells book.
I first read this book over 30 years ago, and on 're-reading"ita lot of it came straight BACK to me--memory is subjective, where I put my glasses or keys often eludes me.
Orwell, whilst having a relatively comfortable life actually did work for a while as a plonguer in Paris,and went on the road as a tramp for a while,some things don't change MUCH, paddys account of sleeping on the Embankment"you don't get many benches there, and they are soon taken,try to get to sleep as soon as possible,as the noise of the trains and dem flashing lights make it nearly impossible to get any"this tale has a certain resonance with anyone trying to sleep at Gatwick north terminal, or Stansted airport,awaiting a very early morning flight, jobsworth, come round at 4am to wake juan up, not that sleep is possible, the clattering wheels of suitcases ensure this.
Pity Orwell is not around to rewrite down and out with a modern twist--onward to Wigan Pier
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on 1 September 2014
'Down and Out' is, strictly speaking, a non-fiction account of Orwell's experiences as a young man in Paris and London in the late 1920's where he mixed on equal terms with vagrants and the poorest of the working classes. Both episodes in Orwell's life lasted less than a year and occurred, in reality, the reverse way round. However, the events and characters are genuine and strike the reader with an immediacy and clarity that is highly engaging.

As with 'Road To Wigan Pier' the accounts are littered with factual details that colour and refine the picture of poverty in a way that other writers might dismiss as trivial. Like the full report on the Paris hotel employee hierarchy or the short chapter on the current London slang. Personally, I found this nitty-gritty forensic approach enthralling, strangely bringing faraway, forgotten hardship right back to life.

Maybe, it could be argued, it's a sketchy, stylistically naive early work. (But then, let's face it, Orwell's later standards were exquisite.) Having said that, it possesses all the punch, heart and courage - and readability - of trademark Orwell.
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on 9 January 2015
A brilliant and harrowing account of George Orwell's life during the periods he spent living in poverty abroad and in London.A trifle contrived concerning his return to England,following his departure from Paris,when according to the book,he went straight to London to live as a tramp,when in definite fact,he was supposed to have returned promptly to his parents home in Southwold,Suffolk, his experiences living among the poor and destitute in London,were as true as those among the larger than life characters in Paris,and is described in a vivid and unflinchingly honest fashion,that was deeply radical and brazen for the time it was written,but still resonates today.If it was a partly fictionalized biography,it at least seems to have at least gone to produce a clear and compelling chronicle of awful life in the 1920s and 30s.

I have to say,I preferred the chapters when he was in London to those about Paris.Despite graphically depicting his almost unimaginable poverty among it's outrageous characters in all their sickening depravity and squalor to realistic effect,they don't seem to have the sanguine and clear-cut authority when describing the down-and-outs and work houses of London.They contained a simple clarity compared to the more turbulent and perhaps exaggerated life of the scoundrels and rogues of bohemian Paris,that was more immediate and powerful.The descriptions of the Parisians seemed to be have been recounted as detailed fact by comparison.

Although not as powerful and stunning as his famous later book,"The Road to Wigan Pier",Orwell's views on socialism and oppression that have endeared him to the world,can be seen to have been developed here,and that is what makes the book important.
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on 16 March 2014
Not many ex-public school boys would have had the confidence and self denial to live as Orwell did, literally down and out and starving for brief periods as described in this book. His indifference to what others ,his peers and contemporaries felt , is also admirable. The book is of course marvellously written and the second part of the book which deals with the political reasons for the poverty and disease he witnessed is as relevant today as when written , the tragedy being that the middle classes, who differ from those of the 30's and 40's , still do not understand their exploitation by those who hold power, altho again the exploiters now differ to some extent (multinationals and bankers). Bankers were always around of course, but were much less greedy in that period.
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on 8 April 2017
A very good read
Informative but touching
An education to those who know nothing of poverty

A very moving account of life as one who dwells on the fringes of society
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on 18 August 2016
Having lived both in Paris and London during my twenties, I can relate to both. Not that I lived in any kind of a similar situation to Orwell, but could vividly picture everything he described.
This a book to be 'lived', not read through, and I was disappointed to find I had come to its close.
Just as an aside, I enjoyed the author's closing comments about what he had learned. His comment about the Salvation Army brought memories flooding back of, many years ago, my father saying he would give nothing to the Salvation Army, ever agin. His own father had died, a very comfortably off gentleman, and he had much underwear, completely new, some still in its wrappers, long johns and such like. My father took it to the SA and it was refused out of hand. How very much use those garments could have been to their visitors.
Yes, there is SO much to be learned from this book.
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on 14 November 2017
Despite his ability to fallback on friends and escape this squalid existence in first Paris and then London, Orwell still walked the walk and lived this life for long enough to give us this glimpse of those times and a voice to those too easily forgotten.

As is often the case, his work still resonates with our times, and shows us how far we have to go until we can truly call ourselves civilised.
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on 12 October 2015
The two sections, set in Paris and London respectively, are two books really. The Paris section is a fascinating insight into life in bohemian Paris which compliments Hemingway's A Moveable Feast and Miller's Tropic Of Cancer perfectly as Orwell describes a more genuinely impoverished life without the trappings of celebrity that the Americans.

When Orwell moves to London things become even grittier again as he intentionally becomes a vagrant.
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