Down and out in Paris and London

Down and out in Paris and London

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This unusual fictional account, in good part autobiographical, narrates without self-pity and often with humor the adventures of a penniless British writer among the down-and-out of two great cities. In the tales of both cities we learn some sobering Orwellian truths about poverty and society.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780140862577
Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
Publication date: 06/28/1997
Edition description: Abridged, 2 Cassettes
Pages: 2
Product dimensions: 4.44(w) x 7.13(h) x 0.83(d)

About the Author

GEORGE ORWELL (1903-1950) was born in India and served with the Imperial Police in Burma before joining the Republican Army in the Spanish Civil War. Orwell was the author of six novels as well as numerous essays and nonfiction works.

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Down and out in Paris and London 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 62 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The main point of this book really isn't to entertain you with a story that is happy and ends with all the loose ends tied up in a pretty little package. Orwell attempted to show the true side of poverty, and clear up many of the general public's misconceptions regarding poverty. Just as he did in 1984 and Animal Farm, Orwell wrote a very thought-provoking, powerful story that has the power to alter your perceptions of the issues presented.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Reading Orwell in both fiction and non-fiction is a treat and torture. You aren't going to be happy but you will be entertained and informed. The bare honesty of this book ranks it among the best in describing the attitude of society toward the destitute and vice-versa. Being written in such a far removed time does not make this book irrelavent, it shows an underlying unchanging constant in western society that is as alive today as it was when the book was written.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
You will not find a more honest, more realistic, or better storyteller than George Orwell. The book is told through a character who is a writer(Orwell) who explains the life of a plongeur in Paris as well as a tramp in London. The book provides vivid description with astonishingly real storytelling. Anyone who wants a quick, intelligent read then choose this book. The best part of the book is the insight that Orwell provides on society's view on poverty and the homeless' view on poverty. The characters that he meets in his journey will entertain you and haunt you as well. A truly honest, intelligent book and author!
justinetruant More than 1 year ago
Possibly one of the most underrated novels I have ever read. Orwell's writing is, as with most of his essays and novels, simple and understated. He provides nothing more or less than an account of his experiences with poverty and how that period in his life shaped his worldview. What I love most about Orwell is that he was, believe it or not, the perfect "everyman;" Down and Out gives us no stunning or beautiful revelations, but allows us to live as he did for a couple hundred pages. The details of the restaurant culture in Paris are fascinating, and Orwell's gradual acceptance of destitution through the novel is enlightening.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
While the book itself is a great read, this electronic version is full of typos. Most look like they're due to a poor job of scanning the print version and getting a lot of mis-reads; i.e. "mc" for "me", etc. Also, this is the censored Harcourt edition, full of "---" as substitutions for censored words. This would be forgivable in a free or low $ edition, but for $10 I'd expect a little more.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It's a semi-autobiographical book highlighting a poor man's life in the backstreets of Paris and London. It's about hunger, poverty, dignity, humanity and the contempt that the better off have for the poor. Orwell does an excellent job at making the reader feel horror at the conditions and quality of life and at the same time humanizing the people living the life - making the reader connect with the nameless, seemingly disposable vagrants. The books is full of rich imagery and anyone reading the book will immediately feel transported to the poor slums of Paris and London.
Guest More than 1 year ago
In Down and Out in Paris and London, readers travel with Orwell as he journeys through poverty¿s highs and lows. I especially loved Orwell¿s descriptions of the different characters the narrator meets, which all are influential to his life in some way or another. They, who have experienced the best and worst of poverty, help ease the narrator in his journey through the lower class. Orwell uses his gift of words, twisting and turning them in a way that both appeals to authors and conveys his ideals about poverty. At points, though, it seems as if he is beating a dead horse with the many descriptions of similar lodgings he attends, however altogether the book was enthralling and enlightening about the impoverished lifestyle.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Down and Out in Paris and London is an eye-opening book about the life of a man who lives a life of poverty. He is an Englishman who is down on his luck in a Paris slum. He works as a low servant, or plongeur, in several Paris restaurants. He only makes enough money for a cheap room, a bread diet, and several francs in drinks a week. In comparison to the standards of many poor people in the slums of Paris, he is well off. After several weeks of a horrific schedule of working, he decides to leave Paris and enter London. He expects to find a better life in his home country, but he quickly finds out otherwise. He ends up with no money and no job. He enters the life of a English tramp, and wanders the country in search of spikes where he can spend the night in cells, as sleeping on the streets is forbidden by law. He reminisces back to his times in Paris and how well off he was in comparison to his life in England. He is taken aback by the quantity of tramps England held and the system to keep them moving without any control over where they were headed. Orwell also goes on about the degree of separation between the poor, the rich, and the tramps. He argues that there is not much difference between a man and a tramp, but the society and stereotypes have created two different men out of one man, and it all depends on the clothes he wears. If a man is wearing a business suit, he is sure to be eyed by women and respected by the businessmen he meets. If the next day the same man were to wear a filthy tramp coat, he is immediately ignored by women and businessmen and introduced to an entirely new world. Other arguments Orwell makes in this piece are the many points of view that can be taken for each situation. For example, when the main character in the story is in Paris, he believes that the conditions could not get any worse. When he arrives in London, he is quick to realize that his life was not as bad as it had become in his home country. I enjoyed the honesty and the brutal truth about the culinary establishments in Paris. It was entertaining to read on about the true conditions of the lower class and what the life of one of those lowerclassmen contained on a daily basis. It has some heartwarming appeals to pathos when even the dirt poor people are able to use their money on things that are needed by character instead of by their stomach. It sheds a better light on the lower class, and the book as a whole gives you a greater understanding for the hardships of the tramps and beggars all over the world. It shows that it is nearly impossible to escape the endless cycle of false charity and endless labor intensive job searching. From the second that I picked up this book, it was nearly impossible to put it down, and sleep usually came over me before I could take my eyes off of its pages. It is a well written piece of literature that will open your eyes to the reality of poverty. It is a heartwarming tale of beggars who feel pride in simple sidewalk drawings and expensive weekly shavings. It is a story of overcoming insurmountable obstacles. I highly suggest reading this book and it is packed full of arguments that will make you rethink the stereotypes set about a city slum. It is a place of people who have been defeated by the system, and not people who have caused their solemn fate. Orwell will keep you entertained throughout each page, and it is a book that is worth reading. Its contents are truthful, and it may open your eyes to the truths about poverty and false luxury that will cause some serious thinking at points inside the novel. It will make you rethink the heart of a slum, from a place filled with people who cause trouble to a place of broken people who have no other choice but to try and sustain themselves in the only environment possible. It will make you aware of the most feared sections of cities around the world. The people living there are people who persist with conditions and funds unimaginably ba
Guest More than 1 year ago
Great Read! In traditional Orwellian style, this book flows; the writing style is such that reading the book is effortless. The anecdotes are entertaining and keep you reading for more. I could have done without some of the longer expostulations into the evils of urban poverty, but it wouldn't have been Orwell without them. This book is heartily recommended.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The book exposes mankinds fear of ending up peniless in the doghouse, by actually taking us there and showing us the real truth behind the slums and bums in two of the worlds favourite capitals. An excellent book which reads as if Orwell himself is sat there reciting the tale himself
Guest More than 1 year ago
Orwell truly has a way with words, and he creates a page-turner here. The 'seemy' side of Paris and London are revealed to a writer with an uncanny eye for detail, and a skilled hand with which to write it down. Read it as journalism or just read it for fun. You can't go wrong with this one. [Almost as good as his Homage to Catalonia; better than many of his other works.]
LVassmer on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
An interesting and fast read on poverty in Paris and London. Although Orwell experienced and wrote this long ago, many of his observations still seem relevant today. His description of hotel kitchens and "casual wards" will stick with me for a very long time. Also, I enjoyed his little notes at the very end giving suggestions on how to make the lives of those living in poverty just slightly easier. Although this book wasn't as much of a "thinker" as 1984 or Animal Farm, this book gives new insight to the life of the poor. The only reason I gave this 4 starts instead of 5 was that the book seemed somewhat superficial. Even Orwell mentions near the end that he wishes he could have delved further into the lives of the people he met. I would have loved to learn more about the mindset of the people that he interacted with. From what I can see from the glances we get in the book, so many of these people have adapted to the life of poverty in a way that is probably unthinkable to people never having gone through it.
J-Reader on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
'down and out in Paris and London,' is a very good insight into what it would be like to live in the lower class societies of both cities in the nineteen-thirties. It isn't just somebody looking from the outside, but Orwell actually experiences the poverty himself. Therefore this book doesn't hide anything from the reader.The characters that Orwell meets along the way really brings the story to life. A well written book that brings some issues in society to the forefront.
amydross on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Fascinating and sobering account of living in true poverty... I thought this would be a book of bohemian hijinks, but I was completely wrong. The Paris section was more fun for me, since I knew intimately many of the places he was wandering about, but London was interesting because he was truly homeless there, not merely poor. Paris also seemed more lively because even the very poor managed to drink plenty of wine every day. The British version is endless cups of tea, which I found very depressing. I really don't understand the British fascination with tea -- even the most completely destitute would apparently rather spend a few pennies on tea than an extra slice of bread (to say nothing of fruit or meat). I guess tea kills hunger to a degree, but I'd still rather have wine.
SallyApollon on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I like reality and the reality of being hand-to-maout, cold & hungry was something new to George Orwell. It's a true story that he tells well.
edgeworth on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I read both 1984 and Animal Farm in high school and found the first to be quite tedious while the second was quite good, and I read a number of Orwell's essays in university which led me to believe that he's one of those writers who is better at producing non-fiction than fiction. This belief was confirmed in Down And Out In Paris And London, which is both "an excellent book and a valuable social document," as one 1930s reviewer put it.Obviously Orwell was no slouch when it came to writing fiction, either, but his non-fiction is such a rare and beautiful thing: articulate, readable, intelligent and witty. He writes about his time spent as a dishwasher in Paris and his time as a homeless tramp in London. Neither of these experiences sounds particularly interesting, yet Orwell makes them so, drawing them in clear and precise terms with his remarkable command of English and sprinkling the text with his comments on the injustice, cruelty and pointlessness of the things he witnesses. In England, for example, the state provides what tramps call 'spikes' - free but prison-like boarding houses - but tramps are not provided with any useful work there, and are not permitted to stay in the same one each night, which sends them trekking across the countryside to the next spike like "so many Wandering Jews." In Paris, he marvels at the fact that kitchen workers essentially live a life of slavery: they work sixteen or seventeen hours a day, and barely have enough time to sleep, let alone find another job or educate themselves, so they are forced to work as kitchen hands for the rest of their lives. It's easy to see Orwell's socialist beliefs in their crucible, and it's a fascinating glimpse into a world that no longer exists (although I suppose the extent to which our society has improved is up for debate).Down And Out In Paris And London is a brilliant piece of writing, and I now intend to seek out the rest of Orwell's other non-fiction works.
soniaandree on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
It reads like a tourist's guide to Paris and London, but does not offer the usual advices: instead, this is the biographical account of George Orwell's life as a penniless author in the two cities.Do not expect nice accounts of the places, but the realism is there - if you feel like, try to find the streets mentioned in both cities, and you will have a feel of what was life for him. The characters are realist, acerbic and quite colourful, and reminds me of Joyce's Ulysses, but without the complexity of language.This is a definite read for a taste of 1920-1930s realism, with a taste of the backstreets, pimps and slums of the two capitals between the wars, but without being overly negative in its viewpoint. This is recommended for anyone interested in social realism, sociology and can be read in conjunction with Zola's 'L'assommoir'.
br77rino on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Great recollection by Orwell on his pseudo-investigative days as a bum in Paris and England. This guy was no armchair philosopher.
audramelissa on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I love that Anthony Bourdain loves this book too. This book is a must for anyone who works or has worked in a kitchen. This is one I can re-read and never tire of it. Much of the book reveals the tragedies of the poor but Orwell is also a master at tragi-comedy.
carlym on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Orwell describes his hand-to-mouth life in Paris and London. In Paris, he lives in a boarding house and works (part of the time) in a hotel, and then in a restaurant. In London, he is a tramp. The book is an interesting and generally well-written description of life on the edge, but Orwell's message that poor people are just ordinary folks who should not be treated differently just because they are poor is undercut by his racism and sexism.
Jacks0n on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Prior to reading this book, my knowledge of Orwell was rather limited - I'd read the standards: Animal Farm and 1984 - and I loved his essay Politics and the English Language, but that was all.I found Down and Out in Paris and London both entertaining and thought-provoking. It's not really written as either an autobiography or a straight non-fiction book but is closer to journalism than anything else. And it's very entertaining - the episodes and characters Orwell conveys are lively, and Orwell's own musings on the essentially useless nature of poverty (by which he concludes that poverty has no real purpose) are precise, humane, and accurate.More than anything, this book made me grateful for such simple pleasures as a long hot shower, a clean place to sleep, and decent food. I think anyone would enjoy this book, and I'd certainly recommend it.
kant1066 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The title isn't pretentious; it doesn't claim to be something it isn't. This book is, quite literally, about being down and out in Paris and London. Having been published in 1933 it is, as far as I know, the first full-length book that Orwell published. However early it comes in his career, you can sense some of the nascent ideas and concerns that would haunt his work for the rest of his life: the virtues of democratic socialism and the plight of the working poor. In Paris, Orwell takes a job as a plongeur in an anonymous hotel. He trenchantly describes the "caste system" that exists within all of the finest hotels in Paris, from the manager to the lowest of the low, the dishwashers. His work is grueling, lasting up to fourteen or sixteen hours a day, only to go home, get almost no sleep, and have to do the same thing the next day, six days a week. While in Paris, he befriends an ex-military Russian by the name of Boris who is much the same predicament. Eager to find a job that allowed more than a few hours of sleep every night, he eventually quits his job and heads to London. When he arrives in London, he is without a job and is forced to live in hostels and lodging houses. Because of British law which says that you can't stay in the same one for more than a few days, he is forced into becoming a transient. In London, he meets several people, including the Irishman Paddy and Bozo, a street artist. His ability to relate to them as more than simply "homeless" people is extraordinarily honest and sincere. He openly admits that these people are every bit as interesting (sometimes more so) than the middle-class Parisians and Londoners who walk the city streets and look down on Orwell and his friends. The details of his day-to-day life can be debilitating to anyone with even a soupcon of optimism, but the book isn't without its gems. There are a handful of times when Orwell interrupts the action of the novel and interjects his critical social commentary. Even though they only last a couple of pages a piece, this constitutes some of the best writing in the book, reminiscent his greatest essays. This is a shining example, from Chapter XXXIV on "tramps":"To take a fundamental question about vagrancy: Why do tramps exist at all? It is a curious thing, but very few people know what makes a tramp take to the road. And, because of the belief in the tramp-monster, the most fantastic reasons are suggested. It is said, for instance, that tramps tramp to avoid work, to beg more easily, to seek opportunities for crime, even - least probable of reasons - because they like tramping. I have even read in a book of criminology that the tramp in an atavism, a throwback to the nomadic stage of humanity. And meanwhile the quite obvious cause of vagrancy is staring one in the face. Of course a tramp is not a nomadic atavism - one might as well say that a commercial traveler is an atavism. A tramp tramps, not because he likes it, but for the same reason as a car keeps to the left; because there happens to be a law compelling him to do so. A destitute man, if he is not supported by the parish, can only get relief at the casual wards, and as each casual ward will only admit him for one night, he is automatically kept moving. He is a vagrant because, in the state of the law, it is that or starve. But people have been brought up to believe in the tramp-monster, and so they prefer to think that there must be some more of less villainous motive for tramping" (p. 201).
theabolitionist on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Orwell is the original Gonzo journalist. Honestly written, Orwell exposes the real underbelly of Paris and London by putting himself directly in the flow of filth produced by the wealthy. Highly recommended, fantastic work.
Polaris- on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A great debut book. Orwell demonstrates his obvious journalistic talents.
melmore on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Among its other strengths, this book contains the best description I've ever encountered of what it's like to work as a dishwasher.