Down and Out in Paris and London
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Down and Out in Paris and London

4.08 of 5 stars 4.08  ·  rating details  ·  22,538 ratings  ·  1,445 reviews
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. The Parisian episode is fascinating for its expose of the kitchens of posh French restaurants, where the narrator works at the bottom of the culinary echelon as dishwasher,...more
Paperback, 213 pages
Published March 15th 1972 by Mariner Books (first published 1933)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Kimley
Do not read this book if you are unemployed.

Do not read this book if you are homeless.

Do not read this book if you are worried about the tanking economy.

Do not read this book if you have no retirement savings.

Do not read this book if you don't like eating stale bread and margarine.

Do not read this book if you like eating in restaurants.

Do not read this book if you are sensitive to foul odors.

Do not read this book if you are one of those people who carries a hand-sanitizer at all times.

Do not rea...more
karen

this book isn't going to cause anyone to have the huge revelation that "poverty is hard!" or anything, because - duh - but it also doesn't piss me off the way morgan spurlock pisses me off, because orwell makes his story come alive and there is so much local color, so many individual life stories in here that this book, despite being horribly depressing, is also full of the resourcefulness of man and the resilience of people that have been left by the wayside. it is triumphant, not manipulative....more
Rowena
Jul 24, 2013 Rowena rated it 5 of 5 stars Recommends it for: everyone!
Do not read this book while eating! I've been told that this book is semi-autobiographical. If so, George Orwell had an even more interesting life than I'd imagined! This book was disturbing, insightful and also funny (great, great characters, some just plain weird!)

The first half of the book depicts the main character's experiences living in poverty in Paris.Some of the descriptions about the living and working conditions are quite gruesome. All those bugs! Orwell sheds more light on what it mu...more
B0nnie
The film Midnight in Paris begins with some beautiful scenes of Paris: the Louvre, Notre Dame, the Seine, the Sorbonne, the Eiffle Tower, the arc de triomphe. And before long, arrives a parade of artistes from the 1920s milieu - Hemmingway, Bunuel, Dali, etc, - all speaking *SparkNotes*. But in the distant background (very distant) I hear a faint sound of et in arcadia ego and Orwell protests “say, I was there in the 1920s too - I saw all that. And I wrote a damn fine book about it”.

That bo...more
Sandy Tjan
Jul 01, 2010 Sandy Tjan rated it 4 of 5 stars Recommends it for: Orwell fans, anyone interested in the bumming life
Recommended to Sandy by: Rauf
What I learned from this book (in no particular order):

1. There is hardly such a thing as a French waiter in Paris: the waiters are all Italian and German. They just pretend to be French to be able to affect that certain hauteur and charge you exorbitant prices for that mediocre Boeuf Bourgignon.

2. Some of them are spies. Waitering is a common profession for a spy to adopt. It is also a popular profession among AWOL ex-soldiers and wannabe snobs.

3. Real scullery maids do “curse like a scullion”...more
Agnieszka
Poverty is no a sin. Honest work is nothing to be ashamed of . Obviously.
Let’s agree to disagree - Orwell seems to say.
In this part-autobiographical story he depicts how life looked like in Parisian slums and London poorhouses in late twenties XX century. In Paris Orwell used to live in rented rooms,dirty and buggy hovels,for over one year.He had earned some money giving English lessons and writing to the local newspapers but when the money had run out he needed to find a work.Then he first exp...more
Kim
Jul 16, 2013 Kim rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: kindle

How many novelists have had their name turned into an adjective? Although there may be more, at the moment I can only think of three: Proust, Dickens and Orwell. The adjective “Orwellian”, of course, refers to the kind of totalitarian state Orwell depicted so brilliantly in 1984. Maybe there should also be an adjective to refer to the kind of poverty Orwell described equally brilliantly in this, his first published novel. In writing it, Orwell drew on his experiences working as a dishwasher in a...more
Anna
George Orwell is a damn good writer. Sure, he whipped out 1984 and Animal Farm, but it's from his essays and nonfiction that I'm learning Orwellian tricks--and by that I mean, the very best sort of craft points.

Yes, I know that his first book, Down and Out in Paris and London (1933) is characterized as a novel--usually with some qualifier like "semi-autobiographical" or "thinly-veiled." But given that Orwell saves several chapters for his personal commentary about, among others, the life of a Pa...more
Laala Alghata
“The mass of the rich and the poor are differentiated by their incomes and nothing else, and the average millionaire is only the average dishwasher dressed in a new suit.” — George Orwell, Down and Out in Paris and London

I am a staunch George Orwell fan. I think he’s absolutely amazing and if you’re limiting yourself to his classic novels (Animal Farm, 1984), you are doing yourself a disservice. His essays and non-fiction books are amongst his best works.

Down and Out is Orwell’s account of the...more
HEILA GH
ياإلهي أي نوعية من البشر تسطيع أن تكتب عن البؤس بهذه الخفة ؟ رأسي كان يركض في كل الإتجاهات دماغي تحول إلى فرن .

حسنًا لم أفكر بهذه الرواية أبدًا , ولم تكن في هاجسي .
حينما كتب فيصل الرويس " أعرف واحد:أول رواية نصح زوجته بقرأتها كانت "متشرداً في باريس ولندن" لجورج أورويل . وبعد تسع سنوات مازال يشعر بالندم على ذلك. ‎:) "
لم أطق أن أنتظر أكثر لأعرف مالذي يدفع رجلًا بأن يندم تسع سنوات لأنه فقط نصح زوجته برواية ؟

لك أن تهديه لصاحبك الذي ضجرت منه لأنه لايكف عن المفاخرة في المطاعم الفاخرة التي يقصدها . ول...more
K.D. Absolutely
Sep 28, 2010 K.D. Absolutely rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommended to K.D. by: 501 Must Read Books (Memoir)
Shelves: 501, memoirs
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Zanna
Orwell's first published work, giving a slightly fictionalised account of his experiences of poverty in Paris and London.

His time in London is made into an extraordinary and vital social document, preserving and bearing witness to the painful and shocking history of the tramps. I never realised that these men and women were so called because they were forced by the law that prevented them from staying in one place for more than one night to walk from town to town every day, with the reward of a...more
Ted
I've loved everything I've ever read by Orwell, including this book which is very autobiographical "fiction", written in the first person as I recall. The temporal setting of the "novel" is sometime in the 1920s I think. This is actually not a bad book to sample Orwell with, of course nowhere near as famous as Animal Farm or 1984, but it reads much like a memoir (a very interesting one) and hence can be experienced as a sample of Orwell's writing style and views on society, without those things...more
Bill  Kerwin

As anyone who has read "1984" can attest, Orwell is--among other things--a master of disgust, a writer who can describe a squalid apartment building, an aging painted whore or a drunken old man with just the right details to make the reader's nose twitch with displeasure, his stomach rise into the throat with revulsion. What makes this book so good is that--although he may continually evoke this reaction in his account of the working and the wandering poor--Orwell never demeans or dismisses the...more
Jesse
Much like Hemingway's A Moveable Feast, Orwell's heavily autobiographical journalistic novel makes me vaguely uncomfortable—I just can never quite bring myself to fully embrace depictions of "playing poverty" by young white men from bourgeois (or better) backgrounds. Granted, the comparison is a bit unfair, as Hemingway was clearly indulging in a project of retroactive self-mythification and intentionally fudging details while Orwell was attempting something akin to a social exposé, using his ex...more
Duffy Pratt
I should have liked this more than I did. I get the feeling that I should have read this book 25 to 30 years ago, back when I had my own pretend brushes with poverty. Orwell took a deeper dip in than I ever did. Yet, I still got the feeling that his being down and out veered just a bit towards the pretend. It seems pretty clear that he had some safety valves in place, and chose not to call on them. All the while he was in France, he could have contacted his English friend who ended up setting hi...more
Jonfaith
3.5/5. More than a touch didactic, Orwell to both move the reader as well as reveal about the working poor, the homeless and his own prejudices. Sociological, his work remains timeless, a portrait of dark corners. What effected me most was not the images of hunger or humiliation, but the descriptions of the numbing tether of protracted work. It begged consideration of my own work. I'll leave the associations there.

Down and Out in Paris and London runs most effectively when it offers a personal s...more
Darwin8u
George Orwell is one of those writers who you THINK you know when you read his couple, well-known books in your adolescence. Later, when older, you discover that 9/10 of his writing was submerged and hidden from your younger, more innocent self. The more of Orwell's nonfiction I read, the more I love his boldness, clearness, and audacity. Orwell's confidence in his writing is apparent even in his earlier works. Down and Out doesn't make me want to tramp, but it did teach me a couple tricks just...more
Capsguy
Orwell certainly took a different approach to documenting the life in poverty than my last read that Zola and Celine depicted.

By no means joyful, you were still hit with the absurdity and desolate nature of poverty, but Orwell still offered glimpses of hope. There was humour embedded in his recounts of his fortunes and setbacks, but not alike Celine's where you didn't know if you wanted to cry of laughter or pity.

Relatively simple prose journeying through Paris and London, with an arrangement of...more
Matthew
There was always something about Aldous Huxley that seemed basically mean to me. Despite the inconsistent brilliance of books like Point, Counter Point, The Devils of Loudon, and of course Brave New World, in all these works Huxley has about as much compassion and warmth towards his characters as a lepidopterist fixing a butterfly on a pin, and about as much sympathy for humanity writ large as, well, any of those other great nihilists.

George Orwell, on the other hand -- who often seems to get pa...more
Barry Pierce
My first foray into Orwell's non-fiction. A harsh insight into life on the breadline in two major cities, Paris and London. Orwell's view of Paris kind of reminded me of the Paris portrayed in the film La Haine. That may sound odd but in La Haine the director purposely didn't show any of the "touristy" parts of Paris (i.e. the Eiffel Tour and the Arc de Triomphe). Orwell does this as well, he shows Paris as it really was, a slum. I admire this portrayal. There are no rose-tinted spectacles in th...more
Chase Von
Nov 13, 2008 Chase Von rated it 5 of 5 stars Recommends it for: Everyone who is an adult!!!
Down and Out in Paris and London is yet another book by George Orwell I couldn't put down! I am well into my adult life yet I had some how managed to not read any of his works until a friend convinced me I "Had" to read 1984. I'd heard the term "Big Brother" like we all had but since I read that book, I have made it a mission in life to get my hands on everything he has ever written! Without a doubt I would have to say he is certainly my favorite author! Down and Out like all the works I've read...more
Laura Leaney
Sep 22, 2013 Laura Leaney rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Laura by: Colleen Sechrest
Here is George Orwell, around 1930, slumming it in Paris as a plongeur (dishwasher/kitchen lackey) in the large hotel kitchens of Paris and as a "tramp" back 'ome in England. Unlike Thoreau, Orwell doesn't stop in at his neighbor's for lunch or go to town for supplies. There are some terrible days of hunger - without two centimes to rub together - and always...........the pawn shop.

What I liked about the book, Orwell's first (unless I mistake this), is the straightforward account of his days. O...more
Robert Ross
Nov 29, 2007 Robert Ross rated it 4 of 5 stars Recommends it for: starving artists who can't afford to live
One of these days I'll just go to Paris and be poor instead of being poor where I am. But until that day comes, I'll keep reading books about being poor in Paris. And of course, it was a rather enjoyable read, especially the first half of the book set in Paris working as a plongeur in hotels, but the last half of the book is a little slower. And quite frankly, who wants to go be a bum in London? No one, that's who. No one.

Still, I enjoyed "Down and Out..." but I don't think I really want to go b...more
Lisa
Sep 30, 2011 Lisa rated it 5 of 5 stars Recommends it for: Anyone and everyone
Recommended to Lisa by: Brian Stanton
Excellent - the sort of book that has me wanting to go out afterwards and slap copies into the hands of passers-by, attempting to turn everyone I meet into some sort of class warrior.

As the cover says, this is an account of Orwell's time on the other side of the poverty line that most of us are lucky not to have to experience - not the kind where you're wondering what bills to pay this month in order to meet your rent, but where you're wondering where you're going to sleep that night and how to...more
Nigeyb
Throughout 2012 I've been working my way through George Orwell's books, before coming to 'Down and Out in Paris and London' I've read 'Burmese Days', 'The Clergyman's Daughter', 'Coming Up For Air', 'Keep The Aspidistra Flying', and 'The Road To Wigan Pier'. In years gone by I've also read 'Nineteen Eighty-Four', 'Animal Farm' and 'Homage to Catalonia'. I am rapidly coming to the conclusion that he's one of my favourite writers. In his essay Politics and the English Language (1946), Orwell wrote...more
Elizabeth
Awesome. Another one I read ahead of my first trip to Paris and I'm so glad I did. Orwell wrote this long before Animal Farm and 1984, but you can begin to see where he's headed through this work. Supposedly autobiographical, but surely not entirely so, it's a vivid and fascinating view of live in poverty and on the breadline in Paris in the 1920s-ish followed by a travelogue as a tramp in and around London at the same time. I was reading A Movable Feast at the same time and it was fascinating t...more
John David
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...more
E.O. Higgins
Though originally being sold as a work of fiction, the book is actually Orwell’s autobiographical account of living in Paris in the 1920s as an occasional kitchen worker, and then, some months later, in and around the casual wards of London.

There are countless reasons to read and enjoy this book. Orwell’s writing is wonderfully vivid, his characters are very human (despite the purgatory they find themselves in), and the story is, of course, still very pertinent in the modern day.

It is also a fas...more
Sarah
Sep 12, 2008 Sarah rated it 3 of 5 stars Recommends it for: Curious people
Recommended to Sarah by: My godmother, Zoe Kiethley
Okay, okay, while George Orwell was living in both Paris and London he was getting an allowance form his family and he was never as poor as he said he was. He was in fact, slumming just as Emerson was living on Thoreau's estate and going hom to his motehr's house for dinner when he lived at Walden Pond. The question is, does that make their observations, conclusions and theses less viable?

I enjoyed reading this book because Orwell had a matter of fact style and he was very observant of human nat...more
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Who is today's George Orwell? 16 225 Feb 12, 2014 03:04PM  
. . . 1 19 Nov 04, 2013 01:25AM  
  • Goodbye to All That
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  • The Most Beautiful Walk in the World: A Pedestrian in Paris
  • Hons and Rebels
  • Paris to the Past: Traveling through French History by Train
  • Hangover Square
  • The Road to Los Angeles
  • How I Escaped My Certain Fate
  • Up in the Old Hotel
  • Guignol's Band
  • Black Spring
  • Between Meals: An Appetite for Paris
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Eric Arthur Blair, better known by his pen name George Orwell, was an English author and journalist. His work is marked by keen intelligence and wit, a profound awareness of social injustice, an intense opposition to totalitarianism, a passion for clarity in language, and a belief in democratic socialism.

Considered perhaps the twentieth century's best chronicler of English culture, Orwell wrote fi...more
More about George Orwell...
1984 Animal Farm Animal Farm / 1984 Homage to Catalonia Burmese Days

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“It is a feeling of relief, almost of pleasure, at knowing yourself at last genuinely down and out. You have talked so often of going to the dogs - and well, here are the dogs, and you have reached them, and you can stand it. It takes off a lot of anxiety.” 103 likes
“It is curious how people take it for granted that they have a right to preach at you and pray over you as soon as your income falls below a certain level.” 67 likes
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