Anna’s review of Down and Out in Paris and London > Likes and Comments

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message 1: by Ancient (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:18AM) (new)

Ancient Weaver Great review!

message 2: by Anna (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:28AM) (new)

Anna thanks for the kind words!

message 3: by Tom (new)

Tom Well, I can't improve on this thorough and insightful review, so let me just add a couple of my favorite passages. Orwell's riff on the vocational qualities of a beggar changed the way I view panhandlers:

"Yet, if one looks closely one sees that there is no essential difference between a beggar's livelihood and that of numberless respectable people. ...Why are beggars despised?...If one could earn even ten pounds a week at begging, it would become a respectable profession immediately. A beggar, looked at realistically, is simply a businessman, getting his living, like other businessmen, in the way that comes to hand. He has not, more than most modern people, sold his honour; he has merely made the mistake of choosing a trade at which it is impossible to grow rich."

His thoughts on the emblematic role of Parisian dishwashers is equally entertaining and as sociologically insightful as any academic trestise on the function of work.

I first read this book 25+ years ago, and I return to it again and again, rereading many favorite passages. It is here that Eric Blair, his real name, started to become the George Orwell who wrote The Road to Wiggan Pier, Homage to Catalonia, and many powerful (and timeless) essays, such as "Shooting an Elephant" and "How the Poor Die." Although the novels have had the greater cultural impact, I really believe that his journalistic and nonfiction writing demonstrates the greater achievment.

If you're interested in experiencing the early development of a famous writer, this is the place to start. (and it's de riguer reading for anyone who's ever worked in a restaurant)

message 4: by Rj (new)

Rj Fantastic review, Anna.

message 5: by blakeR (new)

blakeR With your observation of his "plain-language voice" you've really described well one of my favorite things about Orwell: the humility that infuses all of his non-fiction. Homage to Catalonia is another exquisite example of this effortless prose.

message 6: by Mary (new)

Mary absolutely brilliant review!

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