Thursday, October 17, 2013

Book Review: Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell

Eric Blair's (pen name George Orwell) first published novel is a fantastic read. It treads a fine line between fact and a type of fiction that slightly stretches the truth to the point that many critics dismiss this novel as a memoir. The book is divided into two parts, and as you might have guessed Paris and London make up those parts.
Orwell's time in Paris is spent conspiring with communists and looking for work in restaurants with a Russian friend without much luck. Promises are broken, money is stolen and items are sold in order to survive.
In London, Orwell finds himself (having "survived" Paris): confident. He spends his time tramping in and around the city, meeting some interesting folk along the way, despite living the homeless life. Eventually, sick of living on the brink of nothingness, Orwell writes home to his family to provide him with some sustenance to help him get out of the situation he found himself in.
The issue that most critics have with Down and Out, is that Orwell emerged from quite a wealthy family and brought those "difficult" situations upon himself. The thinking was that if he truly immersed himself in a poverty riddled lifestyle, he would then be able to better represent how one would feel being in that situation. His assessment on poverty is truly spot on and so honest that it leaves you believing that you were by Orwell's side all along.
George Orwell's Down and out in Paris and London is an interesting and griping read that will leave you asking all sorts of questions regarding social justice and equality.

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