George Orwell’s vivid memoir of his time living among the desperately poor and destitute, Down and Out in Paris and London is a moving tour of the underworld of society.
Many years ago, when I was in my early twenties, I lived in Copenhagen where I was registered with the Foreign Ministry as correspondent for The Times. But I made my living washing dishes. The paper paid by the line and used so little of my copy that I was forced to find illegal work as a scullion in one of the city’s less elegant restaurants. And it was during this time, morbidly attracted by the title, that I found a copy of Down and Out in Paris and London.
The book was the first full-length work by Orwell to be published. A tale of poverty in two cities, it is divided into two parts: in the first the author becomes a dishwasher in Paris; in the second he lives the life of a tramp in London. The book’s obvious appeal for me was that it seemed to be written by a soul mate, a letter from one unpublished writer and dishwasher to another. It enabled me to romanticize my deadly dull occupation, not least by allowing me to think of myself not as a dishwasher but as a plongeur.
Extract from Slightly Foxed Issue 21, Spring 2009
All Washed Up
The book was the first full-length work by George Orwell to be published. A tale of poverty in two cities, it is divided into two parts: in the first the author becomes a dishwasher in Paris; in the...Read more