Tag Archives: Down and Out in Paris and London

Down and Out in Paris and London – George Orwell

GUEST REVIEWER – Surly Joe

“He might be ragged and cold or even starving, but so long as he could read, think and watch for meteors, he was, as he said, free in his own mind.”
― George OrwellDown and Out in Paris and London

  • Down and Out copyTitle: Down and Out in Paris and London
  • Author: George Orwell
  • ISBN: 015626224X (ISBN13: 9780156262248)
  • Series: Stand Alone
  • Published: March 15th 1972 by Mariner Books (first published 1933)
  • Format: Paperback
  • Genre/s: Fiction/Memoir
  • Source: Purchased

Before the acclaim of Animal Farm and 1984, before gaining recognition as one of the twentieth century’s greatest and most influential authors, there was poverty. Squalid, extreme, bug-infested poverty. Down and Out in Paris and London, published in 1933, is George Orwell’s autobiographical account of life on the streets, searching for work, searching for food and a place to sleep, pawning clothes for a piece of bread, a cup of tea and a cigarette. His Paris was not the City of Lights, his London was not the height of British splendor. Success meant finding work in a grand hotel restaurant for just enough money to avoid starvation, working seven days a week, seventeen hours a day, standing in slop, serving the oblivious rich patrons on the other side of the kitchen door.who don’t realize that their food was just laying on the floor being picked at by vermin.

When work ended, life meant “tramping” from town to town, sleeping in lodging houses, Salvation Army hostels or on park benches, hoping not to get arrested. At times, there was no food for days, no bathing for weeks. But ironically, Orwell also describes “a feeling of relief, almost of pleasure, at knowing yourself at last genuinely down and out…and you can stand it. It takes off a lot of anxiety”. Down and Out in Paris and London is Orwell’s descriptive study of poverty in two of the world’s greatest cities. It doesn’t explain why he was poor, how long he was poor or how he escaped from being poor. He just was. It was his existence. And when it ended, he
took his experiences and learnings and moved on.

This unusual fictional account – in good part autobiographical – narrates without self-pity and often with humor the adventures of a penniless British writer among the down-and-out of two great cities. The Parisian episode is fascinating for its expose of the kitchens of posh French restaurants, where the narrator works at the bottom of the culinary echelon as dishwasher, or plongeur. In London, while waiting for a job, he experiences the world of tramps, street people, and free lodging houses. In the tales of both cities we learn some sobering Orwellian truths about poverty and society. – Goodreads

George_OrwellEric 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.

He is best known for the dystopian novel “Nineteen Eighty-Four” (published in 1949) and the satirical novella “Animal Farm” (1945)—they have together sold more copies than any two books by any other twentieth-century author. His 1938 book “Homage to Catalonia”, an account of his experiences as a volunteer on the Republican side during the Spanish Civil War, together with numerous essays on politics, literature, language, and culture, are widely acclaimed.

http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/bookclub/down-and-out-in

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Surly Joe – The Gambler

CONTRIBUTOR PROFILE – Surly Joe

In his own words – Surly Joe is a moderately nondescript Toronto-based white guy who spends too much time contemplating the nature of boredom.  His aspirations waver between wanting to be either a professional gambler or a Zen monk, with a touch of writing on the side.  After completing university with a degree in a subject that does not readily lead to any sort of viable employment, he wandered through Europe and Northern Africa for a while collecting stories and useless trivia,  Circumstance led to a career back in Toronto.  He now spends his money on food, friends, wine and annual trips to Las Vegas.

For the record I would like it known that I am far more computer savvy than this clip would have it seem but I couldn’t help but be reminded of exchanges between Joe and I in the past.

As the far more discerning and cultured of the two of us, my plebeian tastes run along the lines of strawberry zinfandel than a full bodied red. Therefore it should be no surprise that Joe would be the one to select George Orwell’s Down and Out in Paris and London as his debut review. I can only hope that you enjoy reading it as much as I did.

Spring Forward – A Talent for Underestimation

For those of you who regularly follow this blog you may have noticed that I seem to accidentally overextend myself from time to time. I cannot tell you the number of times my husband has told me “DO LESS!” As simple a concept as that may seem I am still trying to master it. Annually I put together a book of sorts for my son’s hockey team and somehow the March deadline sneaks up on me, even though this is the third year in a row that I have done it! Regardless of my time management challenges it was my intention to diversify somewhat in 2014 and feature posts and opinions other than those of yours truly and I figured that there is no time like the present in which to do so.

I have been lucky enough to find some truly talented contributors some of whom who have already posted this past winter and some of whom you can look forward to in the coming weeks. I will detail for you below a sampling of the treats we can expect to be reading about.

bittenBANNER

Bitten (Television Series) – Based on the critically acclaimed series of novels from Kelley Armstrong. Set in Toronto and upper New York State, BITTEN follows the adventures of 28-year-old Elena Michaels, the world’s only female werewolf. An orphan, Elena thought she finally found her “happily ever after” with her new love Clayton, until her life changed forever. With one small bite, the normal life she craved was taken away and she was left to survive life with the Pack.

orwellDown and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell  – This unusual fictional account – in good part autobiographical – narrates without self-pity and often with humor the adventures of a penniless British writer among the down-and-out of two great cities. The Parisian episode is fascinating for its expose of the kitchens of posh French restaurants, where the narrator works at the bottom of the culinary echelon as dishwasher, or plongeur. In London, while waiting for a job, he experiences the world of tramps, street people, and free lodging houses. In the tales of both cities we learn some sobering Orwellian truths about poverty and society.

NANonofficial Asset by William Sewell –Peyton Stone never quit his day job. But it’s his other profession that might just get him killed. 

Islamabad. Baghdad. Shanghai. Kazakhstan, Kabul. Langley. For Peyton Stone, that’s a work commute. But his is no normal job. On the surface he’s a world-renowned security expert. But his real occupation is serving as a “nonofficial asset,” a contractor working for the CIA when the government needs complete deniability. While advancing American interests globally, Stone discovers that those interests can exact a steep personal price. And when his business partner is murdered in a Shanghai hotel, ominous ghosts from his past return and he’s drawn deeper into the covert maze, on the hunt for a stolen nuclear weapon and the rogue Iranian admiral hell-bent on using it. In Nonofficial Asset his skills, training, tactics, mettle, and allegiance to family and country are all pushed to the limit as he races to prevent nuclear catastrophe.