Down and Out in Paris and London (Twentieth Century Classics) Paperback – 7 Sep 1989
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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.
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.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
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.
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I really liked it - easy to read and takes you straight into Orwell's life as a lowly 'plongeur' in busy Paris restaurants, followed by life as a tramp in London. Read morePublished 28 days ago by Jennifer Ann Larsen
I could see how this would have been a great read in its day although dated now. The chapter on swearing is very bold for its time and still poignant today as well as life in a... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Glennn
I read this when I was young and really liked it. Re-reading it I found it rather depressing with the unrelenting poverty and deprivation of so many people with nowhere to live and... Read morePublished 1 month ago by P. Fray
A hideous book. I'm not talking about the content - I'm talking about the paperback edition by "Indo-European Publishing" which I bought by accident when I thought I was... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Braggadocchio
I was thrilled and delighted to read this book. The written English is of such a high quality, and the story it tells is so interesting.. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Lizzie
Entirely readable, relatable and brilliant. Thoroughly enjoyed this insightful and knowledgeable first hand view of poverty across different countries and the affect it has on... Read morePublished 3 months ago