Down and Out in Paris and London
The first time that I picked up a copy of this book, I had no idea just how many times I would re read it. I still have no idea what grabs me so powerfully about it. I just know that I used to take it every time that I caught the train into Liverpool during the time that I spent at Edge Hill. I went nearly every weekend, drawn by the Beatles, another favourite that I will never tire of.
Anyway, Orwell’s unsympathetic and truthful sketching of some of the people he met, has a hold on me. I don’t get the impression that he looked down on anyone, revealing both the positive and the negative in all the people that he encountered, and there are a lot of people referenced, throughout the events that happened to him in both cities.
I found the characters fascinating, especially Boris, and Bozo. Bozo’s ability to see humour in situations that would have made most despair, is a truly admirable quality, and one that I wish I possessed more of. He is able to laugh, after selling his razor while unshaven, although Orwell reveals ‘he had not eaten since the morning, had walked several miles with a twisted leg, his clothes were drenched and he had a halfpenny between him and starvation’.
Orwell shares the ordinary experiences that he undertook, while living in Paris. He lived, worked and drank alongside some of the poorest people in the city at that time, and didn’t try to manipulate or create situations in order to make things more exciting. He just showed the wider world, what life was truly like for the poorest in those two cities, at that time.
I think that Orwell’s descriptions, are in part what drive me to continue to write. His skill at never displaying things in a false light, is remarkable. I want to one day be able to do the same, show the negative and the positive that exist within people, as well as making the ordinary seem remarkable.