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Down and Out in Paris and London by George…
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Down and Out in Paris and London (original 1933; edition 2010)

by George Orwell

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
5,02273899 (4.06)217
Member:hampusforev
Title:Down and Out in Paris and London
Authors:George Orwell
Info:Benediction Classics (2010), Hardcover, 198 pages
Collections:The Skeptic’s Guide to the Great Books, Your library
Rating:****
Tags:None

Work details

Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell (1933)

  1. 60
    Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America by Barbara Ehrenreich (WoodsieGirl)
    WoodsieGirl: I'd recommend reading both, just to see how little things change.
  2. 50
    The Road to Wigan Pier by George Orwell (meggyweg, John_Vaughan)
  3. 30
    The Jungle by Upton Sinclair (meggyweg)
  4. 20
    The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck (tcarter)
  5. 20
    Keep the Aspidistra Flying by George Orwell (meggyweg)
  6. 10
    The People of the Abyss by Jack London (bertilak)
  7. 00
    English Journey: Or the Road to Milton Keynes by Beryl Bainbridge (John_Vaughan)
  8. 00
    In Search of England by H. V. Morton (John_Vaughan)
    John_Vaughan: On re-reading these two books it is hard to believe that these two works were written almost at the same time and about the same culture. One by Blair deliberatly self-impoverished, one by Morton - by car!
  9. 00
    A Walk on the Wild Side: A Novel by Nelson Algren (WSB7)
    WSB7: Contrasting life of the down and out at the same period of time in New Orleans.
  10. 00
    Ganz unten by Günter Wallraff (alv)
    alv: Orwell lives together with the lowest of the lowest in the Paris and London of the final 20s. Walraff impersonates a turkish immigrant to the prosperous Federal Republic of Germany of the mid-80s.
  11. 00
    Hard Work: Life in Low-pay Britain by Polly Toynbee (DLSmithies)
  12. 00
    Hotel Bemelmans by Ludwig Bemelmans (SomeGuyInVirginia)
  13. 33
    Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly by Anthony Bourdain (sbuehrle)
  14. 01
    Life at the Bottom : The Worldview that Makes the Underclass by Theodore Dalrymple (bertilak)
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» See also 217 mentions

English (69)  French (2)  Hebrew (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (73)
Showing 1-5 of 69 (next | show all)
Orwell's first, or so I read...it's autobiographical fiction about his guttersnipe days in the title-mentioned cities. As a former restaurant worker myself, I really enjoyed his description of working as a "plongeur" (Diver in French, dishwasher in the vernacular) in the filthy, bowels-of-the-earth kitchen of a French restaurant. Throughout, he shows you that what Dickens was talking about was still real in early twentieth century Europe. ( )
  jimnicol | Sep 26, 2014 |
Apparently it is in dispute as to how much of this book is memoir/autobiography and how much is fiction, but I believe it was presented as a memoir. It recounts tales of the author living in poverty in Paris, where he worked in low paying restaurant jobs, then in London, where he focused more (at least in the book) on finding a place to sleep and generally about how poor people are treated.

It was ok. I waffled back and forth on rating it ok (3 stars) or good (3.5), but as I was listening to the audio – despite thinking the narrator was pretty good – I did lose interest a number of times, so I went with the slightly lower rating. I honestly don't remember why I added it to my tbr, but I was a bit surprised that I found it as interesting as I did. He certainly has some interesting commentary on poverty, but I guess he's also been there! ( )
  LibraryCin | Sep 12, 2014 |
These are the highly autobiographical adventures of a man living hand to mouth in Paris and London in the 1920s and 30s. His experiences working for a Paris hotel were equal parts hilarious and horrifying, while his life as a tramp in London was mostly sad. I enjoyed this more than I expected to, to be honest, and it gave me quite a lot to think about in terms of the life of the poor. Sure, I imagine the details of the daily lives of homeless people have changed in the last 80 years, but I appreciate any book that gives me a new way of looking at the world. That said, it did not instill in me any desire to visit either city. ( )
  melydia | Aug 29, 2014 |
As the title suggests, this book is about Orwell's time as a down-and-out in Paris and London. As most people are not used to this mode of existence, it was educational. It was also very easy to read and entertaining due to Orwell's skill at writing and eye for amusing anecdotes.
During his time in Paris he went through various jobs and forms of accomodation, having to pawn his clothes and go without food for days between finding employment. His existence in London was somewhat rougher, and his insight into the life of the tramps around him is revealing. Having been educated at Eton, and having worked as a journalist, he was able to appreciate the contrast between lives at each end of the social spectrum. I would recommend this to any reader. ( )
  P_S_Patrick | Jul 29, 2014 |
An interesting and quick read. This is the first book by Orwell I have read other than his dystopian hits [book: 1984] and [book: Animal Farm].

The back of the book claims this to be fiction AND semi-autobiographical. In any case, it's an interesting look into the lives of the homeless in both Paris and London. (If you couldn't tell from the title.)

The narrator, whose name I either cannot remember, or was not given, finds himself without a job. He has to pawn his stuff, sleep on the streets, and go days without washing or eating.

Obviously the book was written so people would think more highly about those we often try to ignore. In that respect, he succeeded. He shows very clearly the ridiculous laws of the time which seem to actually reinforce the 'tramp' way of life. ( )
  csweder | Jul 8, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 69 (next | show all)
The original manuscript of “Down and Out” took the form of a diary and bore the blander—but winkingly ironic, in its cheery touristic tone—title “Days in London and Paris.” (Note that Orwell revived this theme for his first novel, “Burmese Days.”) The book underwent several name changes, at one point being called “A Scullion’s Diary,” in a version that was rejected by T. S. Eliot, then an editor at Faber & Faber:
We did find it of very great interest, but I regret to say that it does not appear to me possible as a publishing venture.

 

» Add other authors (37 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
George Orwellprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Kemppinen, JukkaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
O scathful harm, condition of poverte!

--Chaucer
Dedication
First words
The Rue du Coq d'Or, Paris, seven in the morning. A succession of furious, choking yells from the street. Madame Monce, who kept the little hotel opposite mine, had come out on to the pavement to address a lodger on the third floor.
Quotations
[Chapter 30]

The next morning we began looking once more for Paddy's friend, who was called Bozo, and was a screever -- that is, a pavement artist. . . . He was an embittered atheist (the sort of atheist who does not so much disbelieve in God as personally dislike Him), and took a sort of pleasure in thinking that human affairs would never improve.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
An autobiography by George Orwell living in poverty in 1930's Paris and London.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 015626224X, Paperback)

What was a nice Eton boy like Eric Blair doing in scummy slums instead of being upwardly mobile at Oxford or Cambridge? Living Down and Out in Paris and London, repudiating respectable imperialist society, and reinventing himself as George Orwell. His 1933 debut book (ostensibly a novel, but overwhelmingly autobiographical) was rejected by that elitist publisher T.S. Eliot, perhaps because its close-up portrait of lowlife was too pungent for comfort.

In Paris, Orwell lived in verminous rooms and washed dishes at the overpriced "Hotel X," in a remarkably filthy, 110-degree kitchen. He met "eccentric people--people who have fallen into solitary, half-mad grooves of life and given up trying to be normal or decent." Though Orwell's tone is that of an outraged reformer, it's surprising how entertaining many of his adventures are: gnawing poverty only enlivens the imagination, and the wild characters he met often swindled each other and themselves. The wackiest tale involves a miser who ate cats, wore newspapers for underwear, invested 6,000 francs in cocaine, and hid it in a face-powder tin when the cops raided. They had to free him, because the apparently controlled substance turned out to be face powder instead of cocaine.

In London, Orwell studied begging with a crippled expert named Bozo, a great storyteller and philosopher. Orwell devotes a chapter to the fine points of London guttersnipe slang. Years later, he would put his lexical bent to work by inventing Newspeak, and draw on his down-and-out experience to evoke the plight of the Proles in 1984. Though marred by hints of unexamined anti-Semitism, Orwell's debut remains, as The Nation put it, "the most lucid portrait of poverty in the English language." --Tim Appelo

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:34:38 -0400)

(see all 8 descriptions)

The adventures of a broke British writer as he works as a dishwasher in Paris and stays in homeless shelters in London.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 8 descriptions

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