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Down and Out in Paris and London (Twentieth Century Classics) Paperback – 7 Sep 1989

4.4 out of 5 stars 202 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd; New edition edition (7 Sept. 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140182306
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140182309
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 1.4 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (202 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 865,480 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


He saw through everything... Many have tried to imitate his particular kind of clarity without anything like his moral authority (Peter Ackroyd The Times)

A man who looked at his world with wonder and wrote down exactly what he saw, in admirable prose (John Mortimer) --This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.

Book Description

Voluime 1 from The Complete Works of George Orwell, available separately for the first time. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By @GeekZilla9000 TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 30 Jan. 2007
Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
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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By A Customer on 26 Oct. 1998
Format: Paperback
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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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
First published in 1933, this was George Orwell’s first full length book which made it into print. Although it reads as though the events within it were concurrent, in fact much of the latter part of the book was published as an essay, titled, “The Spike,” while the author was in Paris. However, the fact that events do not necessarily follow the narrative, certainly does not invalidate the book, or the points that Orwell makes – sadly still very valid today.

The first half of the book sees Orwell in Paris. Although certainly not flush, he does not experience poverty until his meagre savings are stolen. Orwell’s aunt was, as we now know, in Paris at the time – although we do not know whether she helped him financially. Whether she did or not, it is certainly that he did experience financial hardship and that this led him to taking up work as a lowly dishwasher in hotels and restaurants. The scenes of hotel life are so vividly written that you have no problem imagining the organised chaos, sheer filth and wonderfully exotic characters that exist within the pages. Paris, at that time, had a huge Russian émigré population and Orwell is befriended by Boris, a Russian refugee and waiter. Through him, Orwell embarks on arduous attempts to find work. When work is finally obtained, the seventeen hour days, exhaustion and grinding work is offset by the possibility of eating regularly. Some of the characters in the Paris section of the book work so long that they seem trapped in kitchens and hotels around the city. If you go out for a meal after reading this book I will be very surprised!

In the book, Orwell returns to England after finally being driven to write to a friend to help him find work.
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