Four reasons to read this 1933 tale of hardship
It’s a great yarn. Down And Out In Paris And London is a semi-autobiographical novel, which begins with Orwell living on the breadline in Paris. He later moves to London where, after the promise of a job falls through, he lives as a tramp. Orwell writes without sentimentality and with humour. He really knew how to tell a story.
And we thought we work long hours. While in Paris, Orwell works in the kitchens of posh restaurants and in one place he describes toiling for more than 17 hours a day. His descriptions of his exhaustion are truly compelling.
It cements our love of bread and tea. Food – and the lack of – is a central theme in the book. When Orwell goes without food, his hunger jumps out of the page at you. We particularly enjoyed the part where he moves to London and spends his time eating bread and drinking tea in cafes.
Orwell’s uncomplicated prose. One of our favourite passages is: “I shall never again think that all tramps are drunken scoundrels, nor expect a beggar to be grateful when
I give him a penny, nor be surprised if men out of work lack energy, nor subscribe to the Salvation Army, nor pawn my clothes, nor refuse a handbill, nor enjoy a meal at a smart restaurant. That is a beginning.”