Down and Out in Paris and London, published 1933, is the first full-length book by George Orwell, a memoir of his own time being destitute and hungry working as a plongeur (a dishwasher/menial worker) in Paris restaurants, and then, still in near-extreme poverty, tramping around London living on the margins. (The actual title was changed multiple times before publication, as was the the pseudonym the author finally chose to use, and Eric Blair would forever after be known to the world as George Orwell!) It is interesting in the same way a travel diary is interesting—here is the world that awaits you if you ever become penniless! It is an eye-opening account of the utter squalor, degradation and enforced idleness associated with poverty at the time, and extremely critical of the prevailing thought that poverty was “sinful” and that poor people, especially the homeless and jobless, should be criminalized. It prefigured Orwell’s later works of social critique and expose’, whether it was pulling back the cover of life in a coal mine or exposing the underbelly of the British Empire or laying bare the true nature of the Russian Revolution. Fascinating, illuminating, and immensely readable, Ed loved and highly recommends!— Ed
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, including 1984 and Animal Farm, as well as numerous essays and nonfiction works.