You Should Read This Book If: you’re looking for the humor in your struggles.
Reviewing Orwell is a task taken on by many and very challenging one at that. He is one of the greats, there is no question about this. In this short memoir, Down and Out in Paris and London, Orwell reveals the realities of poverty in Europe. He describes what life is like in the serving industry of France and the kind of realities homeless people face in England. The book ends with a very political and detailed examination of social norms, arguably what George Orwell does best. Throughout it all, the humor and spirit of perseverance remains constant.
“There were eccentric characters in the hotel. The Paris slums are a gathering-place for eccentric people–people who have fallen into solitary, half-mad grooves of life and given up trying to be normal or decent. Poverty frees them from ordinary standards of behaviour, just as money frees people from work. Some of the lodgers in our hotel lived lives that were curious beyond words”
“At twenty-two I am utterly worn out and finished. But what things I have learned, what abysses of wisdom have I not plumbed”
“Six francs is a shilling, and you can live on a shilling a day in Paris if you know how. But it can be complicated business”
“A bread and margarine diet does, to some extent, provide its own anodyne. And there is another feeling that is a great consolation in poverty. I believe everyone who has been hard up has experienced it. It is a feeling of relief, almost of pleasure, at knowing yourself at last genuinely down and out. You have talked so often of going to the dogs–and well, here are the dogs, and you have reached them, and you can stand it. It takes off a lot of anxiety”
“Never worry, mon ami. Nothing is easier to get than money”
“Fate seemed to be playing a series of extraordinarily unamusing jokes”
“At this moment there are men with university degrees scrubbing dishes in Paris for ten or fifteen hours a day. One cannot say that it is mere idleness on their part, for an idle man cannot be a plonguer, they have simply been trapped by a routine which makes thought impossible”