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“At first one is afraid of reading this, since it promises to be about being worse than poor; however it turns out to be not a gory account calculated to be about manipulating the reader into horror or pathos or revulsion - but simply an account of what the writer experienced through some...”see full review » see other reviews »
“Did Orwell ever write a bad book? 1984, Animal Farm, Homage to Catalonia, On Shooting an Elephant =ÂÂ I love everything he wrote. This biography is no different. Attempting to recreate Jack London's 1902 account of life among the poor, The People of the Abyss, Orwell moves to Paris to live among them. However, he becomes one of them when he is robbed. Penniless, jobless and starving, his account of this life is gripping, depressing and often hysterical. Did you know you could get 10 francs for a good overcoat? His lengthy essays on working in a French restaurant/hotel/resort are wonderful, as are his writings on the tramp's life in London. If there is a knock - and this is a gentle slam - reading Orwell is sort of like listening to The Doors. It good stuff, but starts to sound the same after a while. ”Matthew Hallock wrote this review Saturday, October 19, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Some typically Orwellian insights into the nature of man. A pretty unremittingly bleak read - food, no doubt, for some of the descriptions in '1984'...”sev wrote this review Sunday, September 29, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“This was a great read, particularly as I read it just after Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises, also partially set in Paris in the 1920s (the two books are worlds apart in most ways but the emphasis on money, social dynamics, realism and geography are fascinatingly similar). Whether or not this is "non-fiction," it's about the real world of both cities in the title, and will shock you, for sure.”Trevor Kew wrote this review Monday, July 15, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“This is Orwell’s first novel, however it reads more like a memoir, possibly because of the way Orwell literally absorbs himself into his subject matter. The book begins in Paris where a British man quickly runs out of money and attempts to find work as an immigrant restaurant worker in the harshest of conditions. We see a desperate situation descend into despair before any glimmer of hope arises. Orwell takes us into the depths of the underground Parisian hotels and cafes where workers toil in unbearable conditions for very long hours and less than minimal pay. The second part of the book moves us to the streets of London where we are submerged into a group of tramps and beggars who must keep moving from shelter to shelter just to barely survive. In Orwell’s unique way, he stirs our empathy, dropping our very souls into a hopelessness that eventually opens within us an awareness, a hunger even, for fairness in our unfair world. Most impressive are Orwell’s suggested solutions, ideas that if they had been undertaken could have provided a better existence for millions of needy human beings over the years. While it seems this book might be filled with unimaginable despair it also has moments that are quite uplifting, even comical at times, as desperate strangers form bonds and almost always begin to help one another. It is a clear expose on the social injustices that are suffered by the poor in modern society. Although written in 1933 it remains entirely relevant to the societal ills of today. ”Vikki M wrote this review Thursday, June 20, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Orwell is one of those author's I am revisiting at this time, because I want to get a little deeper than the well known works such as 1984. I think his non-fiction still has something to say today, and this book shows that idea very thoroughly.
An examination of the life of the first-world city poor isn't going to be that different, 90 years ago, than it is today, so I believe that this work gives a view into the world of those who exist on the margins of society. I found the section on Paris to be more personal, where Orwell's London observations were perhaps a bit more "surface," due to him being culturally English.
A quick read, recommended for all who enjoy Orwell, or want to see a view into the history of the 1920's and 1930's.”
“Fun book and interesting insight.”Timothy J Lindsey wrote this review Monday, March 18, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Orwell is widely regarded as the author who brought poverty to the attention of the general British public - how true this is I'm uncertain. However, his account of living rough and working for slave wages in the Paris and London of the 1930s is both shocking and enlightening, told in Orwell's dispassionate, clear-sighted prose. The work is not without its problems (Orwell, an old Etonian, appears to regard tramps and plongeurs as some sort of interesting anthropological experiment rather than as human beings) but it was certainly ground-breaking and its aims were commendable. It's still a good read, too.”Carys wrote this review Thursday, March 7, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“So great. Incredible that he actually chose to live like this, to document the conditions of the poor of the time.”Oscar W wrote this review Wednesday, February 13, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No