Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell

About the book

George Orwell’s vivid memoir of his time living among the desperately poor and destitute, Down and Out in Paris and London is a moving tour of the underworld of society.

‘You have talked so often of going to the dogs – and well, here are the dogs, and you have reached them.’

Written when Orwell was a struggling writer in his twenties, it documents his ‘first contact with poverty’. Here, he painstakingly documents a world of unrelenting drudgery and squalor – sleeping in bug-infested hostels and doss houses of last resort, working as a dishwasher in Paris’s vile ‘Hôtel X’, surviving on scraps and cigarette butts, living alongside tramps, a star-gazing pavement artist and a starving Russian ex-army captain. Exposing a shocking, previously-hidden world to his readers, Orwell gave a human face to the statistics of poverty for the first time – and in doing so, found his voice as a writer.

Reviewed by Museum

For most of us this was a re-read after a period of many years. We were still impressed by Orwell’s commitment and his sharp and lucid prose – but with an average age well over70 we found it fascinating to look back on changes in our knowledge of other social classes and the progress in food hygiene! We also opened a sympathetic thought for Mrs Blair. Eric must have been a sore trial to a woman with a French- Colonial background”

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