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Down and Out in Paris and London: The…
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Down and Out in Paris and London: The classic reimagined with cover art by Shepard Fairey (original 1933; edition 2013)

by George Orwell (Autore)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
7,9141321,148 (4.04)322
Orwell's own experiences inspire this semi-autobiographical novel about a man living in Paris in the early 1930s without a penny. The narrator's poverty brings him into contact with strange incidents and characters, which he manages to chronicle with great sensitivity and graphic power. The latter half of the book takes the English narrator to his home city, London, where the world of poverty is different in externals only. A socialist who believed that the lower classes were the wellspring of world reform, Orwell actually went to live among them in England and on the continent. His novel draws on his experiences of this world, from the bottom of the echelon in the kitchens of posh French restaurants to the free lodging houses, tramps, and street people of London. In the tales of both cities, we learn some sobering Orwellian truths about poverty and society.… (more)
Member:NatalieEmma
Title:Down and Out in Paris and London: The classic reimagined with cover art by Shepard Fairey
Authors:George Orwell (Autore)
Info:Penguin (2013), Edition: 8, 224 pages
Collections:Your library
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Work Information

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

  1. 80
    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 Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck (tcarter)
  4. 31
    Keep the Aspidistra Flying by George Orwell (meggyweg)
  5. 31
    The Jungle by Upton Sinclair (meggyweg)
  6. 20
    The People of the Abyss by Jack London (bertilak)
  7. 10
    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!
  8. 00
    Lowest of the Low 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.
  9. 00
    Hard Work: Life in Low-Pay Britian by Polly Toynbee (DLSmithies)
  10. 44
    Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly by Anthony Bourdain (sbuehrle)
  11. 00
    English Journey: Or the Road to Milton Keynes by Beryl Bainbridge (John_Vaughan)
  12. 00
    A Walk on the Wild Side by Nelson Algren (WSB7)
    WSB7: Contrasting life of the down and out at the same period of time in New Orleans.
  13. 00
    Hotel Bemelmans by Ludwig Bemelmans (SomeGuyInVirginia)
  14. 00
    Ragged London: The Life of London's Poor by Michael Fitzgerald (meggyweg)
  15. 01
    Life at the Bottom : The Worldview that Makes the Underclass by Theodore Dalrymple (bertilak)
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» See also 322 mentions

English (125)  French (3)  Swedish (1)  Spanish (1)  Hebrew (1)  Portuguese (Brazil) (1)  All languages (132)
Showing 1-5 of 125 (next | show all)
This is the kind of book NPR was founded on. Ostensibly, it's a novel, but it's hard not to read it as non-fiction. Orwell (for lack of a narrator's name) spends time in the lower realms of two of Europe's great cities. He lives a poor person's life and learns to not be quite so judgmental. It's sort of like early experience journalism. I found the Paris section more entertaining as a whole, though London had one or two characters that just came alive. ( )
  Library_Guard | Jun 17, 2024 |
In one sense an easy read, in that the narrative sweeps the reader along: in another, difficult, because the story, describing conditions of brutal poverty as a 'plongeur' in a Paris hotel kitchen, then as an English tramp in southern England is unappetising in the extreme. The diary-like narrative is interspersed with anecdotes from the lives of other characters, such as his Russian friend Boris, and with more political reflections to make a striking and unforgettable short book. Not to be read before going out to a restaurant for dinner.... ( )
  Margaret09 | Apr 15, 2024 |
I've re-read this book a few times over fifty years, and each time it seems to resonate with a different dimension of my own experiences. ( )
  sfj2 | Apr 3, 2024 |
The fact that all I wanted to eat when reading this book was a loaf of stale bread and milk speaks volumes about his writing. He writes about poverty in a way that sucks you in - he both glamorizes it and shows the awful truth about it. Loved this book! ( )
  shevsters | Feb 19, 2024 |
Orwell has been called a master of plain style. You need not read further than the first page of this, his first book, to learn this doesn’t mean dull or simple. He describes his street in Paris as a “ravine of tall, leprous houses, lurching toward one another in queer attitudes, as though they had all been frozen in the act of collapse.” Anyone who has ever tried to write recognizes the keen observation and quest for just the right word—and then the next, and the next—that goes into producing just one sentence as good as this.
Yet this skillful prose doesn’t exist just to be good writing. This is prose with a purpose. Determined to become a writer, he was equally determined to find something that seemed worth writing about: the life of the absolutely destitute. Despite having a family ready to take him in (something he never mentions), as well as helpful acquaintances, he allows himself to slide down the social scale to a life of absolute poverty.
This gives a dual optic to the book. Most of the book describes Orwell’s life as a penniless dishwasher in a fashionable Paris hotel and then as a tramp in England. Then, toward the end of each half of the book, Orwell includes reflections: an essay that asks why the life of the plongeur is as it is, a brief chapter on slang and swearing, then a short essay on tramps, followed by one describing sleeping accommodations. These contain practical suggestions for improvement. Above all, Orwell argues for a change in perception from that of the “tramp-monster” to what he experienced: “A tramp is only an Englishman out of work.”
Whether Boris, the Russian emigré Orwell befriends in Paris, his tramp companion Paddy, or Bozo the screever (sidewalk chalk artist), it is the unforgettable portraits as well as the record of lived experience that gives Orwell’s prescriptions their credibility.
One more thing: Orwell is the master of the closing sentence. ( )
  HenrySt123 | Dec 14, 2023 |
Showing 1-5 of 125 (next | show all)

» Add other authors (99 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
George Orwellprimary authorall editionscalculated
健, 小野寺Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Brandt, BillCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Davidson, FrederickNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Keeble, JonathanNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kemppinen, JukkaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Murphy, DervlaEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Northam, JeremyNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sutton, HumphreyCover photographsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tull, PatrickNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Waasdorp, JoopTranslatorsecondary 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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Wikipedia in English (3)

Orwell's own experiences inspire this semi-autobiographical novel about a man living in Paris in the early 1930s without a penny. The narrator's poverty brings him into contact with strange incidents and characters, which he manages to chronicle with great sensitivity and graphic power. The latter half of the book takes the English narrator to his home city, London, where the world of poverty is different in externals only. A socialist who believed that the lower classes were the wellspring of world reform, Orwell actually went to live among them in England and on the continent. His novel draws on his experiences of this world, from the bottom of the echelon in the kitchens of posh French restaurants to the free lodging houses, tramps, and street people of London. In the tales of both cities, we learn some sobering Orwellian truths about poverty and society.

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An autobiography by George Orwell living in poverty in 1930's Paris and London.
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