Down and Out in Paris and London First Edition

4.5 out of 5 stars 1,510 ratings
ISBN-13: 978-0156262248
ISBN-10: 015626224X
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Condition: Used: Good
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

What was a nice Eton boy like Eric Blair doing in scummy slums instead of being upwardly mobile at Oxford or Cambridge? Living Down and Out in Paris and London, repudiating respectable imperialist society, and reinventing himself as George Orwell. His 1933 debut book (ostensibly a novel, but overwhelmingly autobiographical) was rejected by that elitist publisher T.S. Eliot, perhaps because its close-up portrait of lowlife was too pungent for comfort.

In Paris, Orwell lived in verminous rooms and washed dishes at the overpriced "Hotel X," in a remarkably filthy, 110-degree kitchen. He met "eccentric people--people who have fallen into solitary, half-mad grooves of life and given up trying to be normal or decent." Though Orwell's tone is that of an outraged reformer, it's surprising how entertaining many of his adventures are: gnawing poverty only enlivens the imagination, and the wild characters he met often swindled each other and themselves. The wackiest tale involves a miser who ate cats, wore newspapers for underwear, invested 6,000 francs in cocaine, and hid it in a face-powder tin when the cops raided. They had to free him, because the apparently controlled substance turned out to be face powder instead of cocaine.

In London, Orwell studied begging with a crippled expert named Bozo, a great storyteller and philosopher. Orwell devotes a chapter to the fine points of London guttersnipe slang. Years later, he would put his lexical bent to work by inventing Newspeak, and draw on his down-and-out experience to evoke the plight of the Proles in 1984. Though marred by hints of unexamined anti-Semitism, Orwell's debut remains, as The Nation put it, "the most lucid portrait of poverty in the English language." --Tim Appelo

About the Author

GEORGE ORWELL (1903–1950) was born in India and served with the Imperial Police in Burma before joining the Republican Army in the Spanish Civil War. Orwell was the author of six novels as well as numerous essays and nonfiction works.

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Product details

  • Publisher : Mariner Books; First edition (March 15, 1972)
  • Language : English
  • Paperback : 224 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 015626224X
  • ISBN-13 : 978-0156262248
  • Reading age : 14 years and up
  • Lexile measure : 1020L
  • Item Weight : 6.4 ounces
  • Dimensions : 5.31 x 0.52 x 8 inches
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,510 ratings

Customer reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5
1,510 global ratings
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Top reviews from the United States

Reviewed in the United States on January 17, 2017
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60 people found this helpful
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Reviewed in the United States on August 21, 2017
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25 people found this helpful
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Reviewed in the United States on December 23, 2016
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Reviewed in the United States on August 20, 2020
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5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful and Often Brutal Insight Into Its Time Period
By Connor Burnett on August 20, 2020
I was brought to the attention of this book by the recommendation of Anthony Bourdain made in his book, "Kitchen Confidential" A good deal of Orwell's experience in the kitchen and the way that it is structurally written here, would inspire the same structure that Bourdain used. I ended up loving this book because of its depiction of the time period. So much was going on in the world during Orwell's life and his viewpoint in seeing how everyday people were living in it is certainly historic. The absolute ends that people would make just to survive day to day was incredibly gripping as the pages keep turning. I found myself incredibly liking George Orwell himself, as he comes off as a very likable narrator. Definitely a book worth reading.
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Top reviews from other countries

Tattooed Celtic Dragon.
5.0 out of 5 stars Orwell, down and out in Paris & London.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on March 26, 2017
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31 people found this helpful
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A Music Fan
5.0 out of 5 stars A book everyone should read. Still relevent today
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 4, 2020
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11 people found this helpful
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Cat Lee
5.0 out of 5 stars Immensely readable, entertaining and with much juicy history about those struggling on the edges of society at that time.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 25, 2021
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2 people found this helpful
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Ben
5.0 out of 5 stars A Timeless Tale From The Fringes
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on February 1, 2020
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3 people found this helpful
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BazLoves
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautifully written book rich with life experiences and a stark ...
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on September 27, 2018
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8 people found this helpful
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