Down and Out in Paris and London – George Orwell

This book, written by the literary genius George Orwell, is a fantastic read that takes you almost a hundred years back in time to Paris and then London, cities which are today the epitome of modernism, but this book shows how low life really had fallen for thousands who lived in them. Orwell starts the story from Paris, where he lives in abject poverty and never knows where his next meal would come from. He admits to spending many straight days without food, and describes in great detail how he would keep his mind off hunger by sleeping through days or just lying in bed to avoid any physical effort that would increase the strain on his body. Tobacco replaces food and sometimes there is no water as well and Orwell spends many days at a stretch without even taking a bath.

He moves from Paris to London in search for better work but bad economy and bad luck, both wreak havoc on his life and just when the reader starts to feel that things could not get any worse and the story might turn around in the next few pages, circumstances just manage to become worse.

At the end of the book, it is saddening to read that an author of Orwell’s brilliance faced such a lonely and sad life as a tramp roaming the streets of London, looking for a different shelter every night. The conditions of the lives of an average tramp have been laid bare and no reader can read this book and continue to feel contempt for tramps.

Orwell also exposes the unhygienic kitchen conditions of the best of Paris hotels in such grave detail that it becomes very difficult after reading this to trust a nice and smart looking hotel. The entire account is very interesting.

I bought this book a few months back, but never really got down to reading it because I always thought I had something better to read. Though I must say that I was mistaken in thinking that this book was going to be a bore and had I the faintest idea about the brilliance of it, I would have read it the day I bought it.

It is a great book, hard to put down because it engrosses the reader immensely into the life of the author, owing to its spectacular first person narrative. Orwell was a genius and his writings exhibit depths of the intellect that are hard to associate a tramp with.

If you haven’t read it, you have missed something great.


About Shitij Bagga
I am a blogger, writer, amateur photographer, obsessive reader. I like writing short stories and some of my works are published as multiformat ebooks, that can be downloaded from Smashwords. My author's page at Smashwords is: I am a huge fan of reading and collecting books of almost all genres. I love reading science, philosophy, literature and fiction, psychology, biographies, history, leadership, etc. I am a habitual reader and not a single day passes by without me having read at least a page out of any one of my hundred plus book collection. My favorite works being the complete collection of Sherlock Holmes as well as the complete Jeeves and Wooster series by PG Wodehouse. Reading is a part of me that I can never let go and so most of my blogs would be based on ideas that I got from reading. Photography is also one of my hobbies and I love clicking pictures of the places that I visit. I will be uploading some of my favorite pictures in my blog as well.

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