Down and Out in Paris and London

Down and Out in Paris and London

George Orwell

Language: English

Pages: 228

ISBN: 015626224X

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

This unusual fictional account, in good part autobiographical, narrates without self-pity and often with humor the adventures of a penniless British writer among the down-and-out of two great cities. In the tales of both cities we learn some sobering Orwellian truths about poverty and society.

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La Compagnie des femmes












person who normally washed up was a woman, and they made her life a misery. It was amusing to look round the filthy little scullery and think that only a double door was between us and the dining-room. There sat the customers in all their splendour–spotless table-cloths, bowls of flowers, mirrors and gilt cornices and painted cherubim; and here, just a few feet away, we in our disgusting filth. For it really was disgusting filth. There was no time to sweep the floor till evening, and we

eight, and, being new, had all to be washed. The cutlery did not arrive till the next morning, nor the linen either, so that we had to dry the crockery with a shirt of the patron’s and an old pillowslip belonging to the concierge. Boris and I did all the work. Jules was skulking, and the patron and his wife sat in the bar with a dun and some Russian friends, drinking success to the restaurant. The cook was in the kitchen with her head on the table, crying, because she was expected to cook for

animals that they would be dangerous if they had leisure; it is safer to keep them too busy to think. A rich man who happens to be intellectually honest, if he is questioned about the improvement of working conditions, usually says something like this: ‘We know that poverty is unpleasant; in fact, since it is so remote, we rather enjoy harrowing ourselves with the thought of its unpleasantness. But don’t expect us to do anything about it. We are sorry for you lower classes, just as we are sorry

at a few pence a time. A little Chittagonian lascar, barefoot and starving, who had deserted his ship and wandered for days through London, so vague and helpless that he did not even know the name of the city he was in–he thought it was Liverpool, until I told him. A begging-letter writer, a friend of Bozo’s, who wrote pathetic appeals for aid to pay for his wife’s funeral, and, when a letter had taken effect, blew himself out with huge solitary gorges of bread and margarine. He was a nasty,

sprowsie–a sixpence. Clods–coppers. A drum–a billy can. Shackles–soup. A chat–a louse. Hard-up–tobacco made from cigarette ends. A stick or cane–a burglar’s jemmy. A peter–a safe. A bly–a burglar’s oxy-acetylene blowlamp. To bawl–to suck or swallow. To knock off–to steal. To skipper–to sleep in the open. About half of these words are in the larger dictionaries. It is interesting to guess at the derivation of some of them, though one or two–for instance, ‘funkum’ and ‘tosheroon’–are beyond

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