Pedro's Reviews > Down and Out in Paris and London

Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell
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Jul 17, 12

'The rue Du Coq d'Or, Paris, seven in the morning. A succession of furious, chocking yells from the street. Madame Monce, who kept the little hotel opposite mine, had come out onto the pavement to address a lodger on the third floor. Her bare feet were stuck into sabots and her grey hair was streaming down.'

That's how it starts. I love the directness of this writing and the rest of the book continues as such, unravelling a treaty on poverty in its grime details but with it's moral and codes. There's a description of an old man living in London on an old-age pension, with the breakdown of weekly costs which included a weekly shave. From the book: '...with an income of ten shillings a week, to spend money on a shave - it is awe-inspiring'.

In another moment Orwell argues that that beggars have a trade like any others. He claims that socially they compare well with lots of other types: 'He is honest compared with with the sellers of most patent medicines, high-minded compared with a Sunday newspaper proprietor...'. And he goes further saying that lots of jobs are quite useless and what differs the beggar from others is that beggars are businessmen who will never be able to make a lot of money.

'In all the modern talk about energy, efficiency, social service and the rest of it, what meanings is there except 'Get money, get it legally, and get a lot of it'? Money has become the grand test of virtue.'

Entertaining and still very topical.
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