George Orwell

Down and Out in Paris and London

“Poverty is what I'm writing about.”

George Orwell (1903-1950) wrote influential moralistic fiction and political outspokenness that has deep roots in his journalistic writing.

Down and Out is the 1933 publication of the journals Orwell kept during the years he lived among the poor in Paris and London.

Of course, the situation was simulated. By the late 1920s, George Orwell, though not established as a novelist, was well-educated, well-known and firmly middle-class. That being said, he generally forewent entitlements to live the impoverished life of the those he observed.

And yet, in Down and Out, there is a distance between author and subject. Orwell reports stabbings, rape, and theft with dispassionate curiosity. The individuals he meets feel a bit wooden, bland. He treats as characters not people. He shoulders the burden of witnessing their lives but perhaps not their souls.

Nevertheless, Down and Out is full of penetrating observation, clear, unadorned writing and a nascent passion to speak for the politically and socially downtrodden. The man who conceived such unique, enduring work as 1984 and Animal Farm is molded here.