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Down and Out in Paris and London

4.08 of 5 stars 4.08  ·  rating details  ·  25,255 ratings  ·  1,604 reviews
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. Elio...more
Paperback, 184 pages
Published 1940 by Penguin Books (first published 1933)
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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

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
Jeffrey Keeten
“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.”

 photo george_orwell_zps86a90dae.jpg

In 1927 Eric Arthur Blair A.K.A. George Orwell gives up his job as a policeman in Burma and moves back to his lodgings on Portobello Road in London with the intention of being a writer. Like with many artists, writers, and those that wished t...more
Jul 24, 2013 Rowena rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Grace Tjan
Jul 01, 2010 Grace Tjan rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Orwell fans, anyone interested in the bumming life
Recommended to Grace 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
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
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

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
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
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
K.D. Absolutely
Sep 28, 2010 K.D. Absolutely rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
Paul Cheney
In the early 1930's Orwell took himself to Paris and then to London to experience the areas that were the poorest in those capital cities.

He was staying in the Latin Quarter in Paris. It was a bohemian area and quite cosmopolitan. There were a large number of Russians who had left after the revolution there. Other famous writers had also lived there for a time. After he had a sum of money stolen, he was almost destitute and was just about scraping a living. He managed to get a job as a plongeur...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
Robert Farwell
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
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
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
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
Chase Von
Nov 13, 2008 Chase Von rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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
OK, here is why I did not like this book:

This is touted as a book of fiction with strong autobiographical elements. So if Orwell is presenting a book of fiction I want characters who engage me. I want a bit of a story. I want good descriptive writing. This novel fails on these points. It reads as a report. It is instead the direct retelling of Orwell’s experiences when he was down and out trying to survive in the slums first of Paris and then later in London. Probably the 1920s.. He had no mone...more
Sep 30, 2011 Lisa rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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
Joseph Raffetto
We know George Orwell through Animal Farm and 1984. But you will be missing out if you don’t read his essays, nonfiction, diaries and earlier novels. What you’ll find is an extraordinary person and writer.

I’ve been reading his diaries and this memoir at the same time. This is his first book, published in 1933. His prose is seamless. The sense of who he is comes through clearly—honest, intelligent and open to everyone he meets.

I don’t believe I’ve ever read such a realistic portrait of poverty in...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
  • Paris: The Biography of a City
  • Goodbye to All That
  • The People of the Abyss
  • As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning
  • Parisians: An Adventure History of Paris
  • Paris France
  • Hons and Rebels
  • Seven Ages of Paris
  • Vile Bodies
  • Time Was Soft There: A Paris Sojourn at Shakespeare & Co.
  • Between Meals: An Appetite for Paris
  • The Condition of the Working Class in England
  • Flaubert in Egypt: A Sensibility on Tour
  • The Belly of Paris (Les Rougon-Macquart, #3)
  • Mussolini: His Part In My Downfall  (War Memoirs, #4)
  • The Air-Conditioned Nightmare
  • Between the Woods and the Water
  • Interesting Times: A Twentieth-century Life
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.

Between 1941 and 1943, Orwell worked on propaganda for the BBC. In 1943, he became literary ed...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.” 115 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.” 79 likes
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