Who wrote this book and when?
George Orwell wrote this book, it’s a true story, and published it in 1933.
Has there been a film version?
I don’t believe so.
Who are the important characters?
George Orwell – an author who is living in poverty; first in Paris, then in London two years later
Boris – a Russian military man living in Paris who wants to become a waiter again
Paddy – a tramp from Ireland
Bozo – a tramp who works as a street artist with chalks, also known as a screever
What’s it about?
This is the story of George Orwell’s time spent in poverty while living in Paris and London. He tried to make it in Paris by giving English lessons, but when he lost all of his clients, he was forced to turn to his friend Boris for help. Together, they explore and detail the life of a plongeur, or a dishwasher/kitchen cleaner, in the French restaurants at the turn of the century. Two years later, Orwell moves along to London and is forced to live as a tramp for the few months between his arrival and the beginning of his new position. He meets up with Paddy and Bozo and learns the life of a London tramp.
Why is this book a classic/bestseller?
Because of its honesty and revealing narrative, and plus it’s by George Orwell.
Do you recommend I read this book?
Why did this book make your list?
It’s by George Orwell. And my sister had to read it for a class over the summer so I volunteered to read it with her.
Has it won any awards?
I don’t think so.
“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.” – p 20
“Work in the hotel taught me the true value of sleep, just as being hungry had taught me the true value of food. Sleep had ceased to be a mere physical necessity; it was something voluptuous, a debauch more than a relief.” – p 92
“A tramp’s clothes are bad, but they conceal far worse things; to see him as he really is, unmitigated, you must see him naked. Flat feet, pot bellies, hollow chests, sagging muscles – every kind of physical rottenness was there.” – p 147
As usual, Orwell knocks my blocks off with his writing. He is so…to the point. He doesn’t pretty things up, or paint them any other way than what they are. He also tells you straight up that he wants you to get the right idea about some things, and will spend time telling you about them in more detail. I had to keep reminding myself that this was in the early 1900’s instead of the medieval days with the way the people such as tramps and menial job workers were treated. Not to mention how food was treated and served to people.