What’s not to love about George Orwell’s Down & Out in Paris and London. Yes, it’s written by George Orwell, I know, how can it go any wrong. And pay attention to the tittle: It says down and out- three words enough to say that it book have enough things to remember it by. And then it says Paris and London- just like Dicken’s Tale of Two Cities.
It is a memoir by Orwell during his times in Paris and London that he mostly lived in abject poverty. After his sting with British East India company in Burma, he returned to Europe to become a writer. But like all master plans, it ddn’t get the right start. We all know how it ended for him, but the journey is not pleasant at all.
After his fringe experiences with journalism, he ended up in Paris. He does not go in to details of his expedition in between, but this book mostly covers his last 10 weeks in Paris where he worked in restaurants in the most bottom end of the hierarchy. In his narration, when it is expressing his hardship and non-existing lifestyle, he made sure that he entertains with his humor and presence of mind. His observant mind allows us to go through the brains of various immigrants in Paris of that era, and chuckle on the drunken conversations and confessions. I loved the part when he explains the point of view of restaurant staffs and how waiters will never make a good communists.
The second half of the book is sort of travelogue, but with the perspective of the tramp. London must be one of the worst city in the world to be without any money. With his curiosity, Orwell made friends with group of tramps and narrated their unexplored. He introduced amazing characters like Irishman Paddy and street artist who goes by the name of Bozo. Paddy who is infamous for his ignorance while Bozo who was formerly astronomer who has resigned to the lifestyle of a tramp.
To be honest, what Orwell went through those years in Paris and London cannot make anyone jealous but even during those days of smoking from rejected cigarette’s butts and pawning all the possible possession, he made sure that we are left with a good tale to read. I rated Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell 4 out of 5 stars in goodreads. This book is available in Penguin’s modern classic paperback, which is glorious in its own league.