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

Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell
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Nov 28, 2008

Down and Out in Paris and London - George Orwell
This is a very good read, both entertaining and thought provoking. Think the social class one below Nickel and Dimed by Ehrenreich, done by Orwell, with Paris and London as the milieu. London then sounded a far worse place than Paris.

A lot of different thoughts here. One chapter describes drug smuggling in the 30's. Another chapter makes brilliant comment on words taken as swearing, and other slang, there origins and evolution. Check this out:

"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."

There is also some great thought here on the role of 'made-work' for lower paid workers as social control.

"I believe that this instinct to perpetuate useless work is, at bottom, simply fear of the mob. The mob (the thought runs) are such low animals that they would be dangerous if they had leisure; it is safer to keep them too busy to think."

Orwell was a huge fan of Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller so it was a good choice for me to read these together. Orwell's Paris is also Miller's Paris. I also read Orwell's essay Inside the Whale which is about Tropic of Cancer and Miller and the whole state of literature between 1910 and 1940 or so! Really great analysis that holds up well today. I am still thinking about what he said in this essay, how it pertains to 1984 and am using it's ideas thinking ahead to literature after Orwell's death.

Orwell's essays in general are quite stimulating. I can see ideas for 1984 springing up from his travel and experience on the undersides of Paris and London.
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