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Down and Out in Paris and London
 
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Down and Out in Paris and London [Format Kindle]

George Orwell
4.0 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (1 commentaire client)

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What was a nice Eton boy like Eric Blair doing in scummy slums instead of being upwardly mobile at Oxford or Cambridge? Living Down and Out in Paris and London, repudiating respectable imperialist society, and reinventing himself as George Orwell. His 1933 debut book (ostensibly a novel, but overwhelmingly autobiographical) was rejected by that elitist publisher T.S. Eliot, perhaps because its close-up portrait of lowlife was too pungent for comfort.

In Paris, Orwell lived in verminous rooms and washed dishes at the overpriced "Hotel X," in a remarkably filthy, 110-degree kitchen. He met "eccentric people--people who have fallen into solitary, half-mad grooves of life and given up trying to be normal or decent." Though Orwell's tone is that of an outraged reformer, it's surprising how entertaining many of his adventures are: gnawing poverty only enlivens the imagination, and the wild characters he met often swindled each other and themselves. The wackiest tale involves a miser who ate cats, wore newspapers for underwear, invested 6,000 francs in cocaine, and hid it in a face-powder tin when the cops raided. They had to free him, because the apparently controlled substance turned out to be face powder instead of cocaine.

In London, Orwell studied begging with a crippled expert named Bozo, a great storyteller and philosopher. Orwell devotes a chapter to the fine points of London guttersnipe slang. Years later, he would put his lexical bent to work by inventing Newspeak, and draw on his down-and-out experience to evoke the plight of the Proles in 1984. Though marred by hints of unexamined anti-Semitism, Orwell's debut remains, as The Nation put it, "the most lucid portrait of poverty in the English language." --Tim Appelo

Revue de presse

The white-hot reaction of a sensitive, observant, compassionate young man to poverty (Dervla Murphy)

Orwell was the great moral force of his age (Spectator)

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George Orwell (de son vrai nom Eric Blair) est né aux Indes en 1903 et a fait ses études à Eton. Sa carrière est très variée et beaucoup de ses écrits sont un rappel de ses expériences. De 1922 à 1928 il sert dans la police indienne impériale. Pendant les deux années suivantes il vit à Paris puis part pour l'Angleterre comme professeur. En 1937 il va en Espagne combattre dans les rangs républicains et y est blessé. Pendant la guerre mondiale il travaille pour la B.B.C., puis est attaché, comme correspondant spécial en France et en Allemagne, à l'Observer. Il meurt à Londres en janvier 1950.

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0 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Période sombre de G. Orwell 7 juin 2013
Par Spyglass
Format:Broché|Achat authentifié par Amazon
A lire pour mieux connaître cet écrivain, en version originale...
Mais pas de souci, la lecture est facile et l'on se passe aisément d'un dictionnaire ;o)
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Amazon.com: 4.3 étoiles sur 5  160 commentaires
103 internautes sur 108 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
2.0 étoiles sur 5 Heavily edited edition 3 juin 2007
Par D. Escott - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
Be advised that the Harcourt edition appears to be the original edited version. As such the passages on slang end up containing a lot of "-----" which is interesting from the perspective of censorship in the 1930s, but is clearly contrary to the authors intent. Before purchasing a copy check the third or fourth page of chapter 32 for the following passage:

"The current London adjective, now tacked on to every noun is ..."
53 internautes sur 55 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Fascinating look at the "down and out" of the early 20th c. 1 juillet 2004
Par Monika - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
This book reads much more like a memoir than the novel it is, and indeed it is a largely autobiographical work. Orwell begins with an anonymous narrator describing daily life in the poorer parts of Paris during the early 1900s. He describes the din, the dirt, the bugs, and all else in vivid detail. The narrator, an Englishman by birth, is living in Paris and running low on funds. We follow him through various attempts to earn money, including work as a lowly dishwasher or "plongeur" in the city's hotels, and also in one dubious restaurant. We learn all the dirty behind-the-scenes secrets of these operations, and it's quite enough to make one's skin crawl and cause one to avoid hotels and restaurants forever.
The second half of the book follows the narrator back to his native England, where he must find a way to get by in London while awaiting a permanent job. Here we are introduced to the tramp's way of life - vagrancy, begging, and sleeping in the cheapest (and filthiest) accomodations available. But we also get to know some of the narrator's fellow tramps, and to feel for them. They are not all the worthless, lazy scum that the higher classes of the time would paint them as. Orwell concludes the book with a brief treatise on the vagrant's plight and ways in which it can be eased, as well as making the tramp a usefull part of society.
Obviously Orwell's closing call-to-action is not entirely relevant anymore, as the workings of society have changed somewhat over the last century, but the book is nevertheless fascinating. A reader may at first be a little thrown off by the lack of a central plot, but once past this it is easy to get sucked into the world Orwell has illustrated here. His imagery is so striking that you actually feel as if you are sharing the narrator's experiences. You can feel the intense heat of the hotel kitchens, feel the weakness and weariness that comes with malnutrition, smell the grease and the sweat and the dirt.
And yet, as bleak as all this sounds, the book is not depressing. The narrator never lapses into dejection or self-pity, and the reader is left with a sense of hope throughout the novel. Being poor is not presented as a dead end - there are always ways to get by, some of them quite ingenious. And the narrator is even able to find humor in some of the truly absurd situations he finds himself in.
Any fan of Orwell's works will not be disappointed with this book. Or even if you've read nothing by Orwell (in which case you absolutely must pick up "1984" at some point), and merely want a glimpse into the life of the poor and jobless at this point in history, this is the book for you. And the fact that the narrator is anonymous (although the story is largely based on Orwell's life, the narrator is not, as some reviewers have claimed, Orwell himself) helps us imagine that he could be anyone, and that even we could be living this life. It's fairly short and easy to read, but opens up a whole world - one that is rarely contemplated in much detail - with it's rich descriptions. Definitely a recommended read.
32 internautes sur 34 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Poverty Taken To Task 25 octobre 2000
Par A. Ross - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
Ostensibly a novel, this book is Orwell's thinly fictional account of a time he spent "slumming it" in Paris and London. Orwell had read and greatly admired Jack London's book, "People of the Abyss" (1902), which chronicled his time spent among the wretched poor of London at the turn of the century. In the prewar '30s Orwell followed London's journalistic example, and voluntarily entered the ranks of the barely surviving in Paris. His account is rich in it's evocation of sights, sounds, and characters of this day-to-day existence. When he isn't unemployed and pawning his clothes, he works 12-18 hour days as a "plongeur" (dishwasher/gopher) at various hotels and restaurants. It's a pretty awful never-ending cycle of poverty to be caught in, as Orwell's books amply demonstrates. He ends his Paris section by speaking directly to the reader about the reasons for such poverty. Rather than claim any kind of nobility in poverty, he points out that the terrible jobs he and his friends perform are largely useless work and can be easily made obsolete. Later he moves over to London and joins the ranks of the homeless tramps. This section is less vivid and strong, and is better as a simple sociological study of homelessness in Edwardian England. He somewhat awkwardly inserts a lot of info about slang which is interesting, but somewhat tangential. The extreme policies he decries here have been replaced by the modern welfare state economy. Altogether, it's an interesting journalistic/sociological exercise with some strong statements.
32 internautes sur 37 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 The Real Kitchen and Hitchinï¿ Confidential 27 mai 2002
Par Volkswagen Blues - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
Like most of us, I read Orwell in high school ("Animal Farm" and "1984") and remained largely unaware that he�d written anything that didn�t involve either talking Trotskyite animals or a terrifyingly functional dystopia. A friend of mine gave me �Down and Out in Paris and London� a month ago, and I was unable to put it down until I was done. In what is basically the chronicle of a couple of months of self-induced misery, Orwell explodes a lot of myths surrounding poverty and the spirit-breaking labor that is, for many, the only exit from it.
We know the gist of the book: Orwell sets up shop amongst the �common people,� first washing dishes in various Paris restaurants and then tramping around London and environs. Proceeding via introductions and anecdotes--some hilariously funny, others downright heart-rending--�Down and Out in Paris and London� offers a detailed tour of a side of life that most of us will only ever read about. From the painstaking descriptions of exactly what kind of muck is to be found on the floor of a restaurant�s kitchen in 1920s and 1930s Paris (you don�t want to know, but he tells you) to elaborations on how to skirt begging laws in London and the dangers associated with such living, Orwell makes his points, one after the other. To his credit, though, there is little dogmatic moralizing; when, at the end of the book, he tells you what he�s learned, he doesn�t seem to feel the need to shove down the reader�s throat what is clearly stuck in his own. The feeling is strong, though, that you�d have to be blind, crazy or both, not to reach the same conclusions.
The greatest strength of �Down and Out,� though, is the manner in which Orwell never attempts to pass himself off as one of the people he is pretending to be. The English band Pulp has a song about rich kids slumming with the common people, but the song points out that, if the going ever really got tough, the rich kids can always call Daddy and have him bail them out. Orwell has to realize that he is in that same privileged situation; his tramping in London, for example, is simply to kill time until he can take up a legitimate position, and, along the way, he is able to borrow money several times from a friend in order to make ends meet. This distance that he subtly maintains between himself and those who have little choice in their fate only adds punch to the lessons he learns, and Orwell�s probably privileged reader (at least privileged enough to spend money on books) is permitted to learn alongside him.
There are picky complaints that could be lodged here--the untranslated French passages, for example, which will leave at a loss those without high school French--but, overall, �Down and Out in Paris and London� is a great read, one of those few books that manages to be both entertaining and properly disturbing. It has all the wit and scoop of later efforts like Bourdain�s recent best-seller, �Kitchen Confidential,� or Ehrenreich�s �Nickel and Dimed,� but �Down and Out,� after bigger game than Bourdain and less unforgivably preachy than Ehrenreich, manages to dig deeper under your skin and stay there longer. And that, as Orwell concludes, is a beginning.
11 internautes sur 11 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 i don't dare pass judgement on Orwell but... 3 août 2005
Par Amazon Customer - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
This book has become "Literature" with a capital L for the right reasons, because it's brilliant and a work of art, etc. I do not have the arrogance to use Amazon as a forum to critique a work by Orwell.

I only want to add that I am working on several restaurants in NYC as an architect, and I have brought this book along to meetings and given several copies to clients to show them other ways of looking at their business. It is easy to talk about being in someone else's shoes when that other person is "down and out," but Orwell manages to sympathetically explore aspects of extreme conditions with incredible empathy. And little pandering or sentimentality. It is not quit poverty he is describing as much as the driving oppression of a job -- especially in the restaurants (and hotel restaurants.)

This is why I've discussed the book with those clients. The business has hardly changed in eighty odd years, especially in any way that means anything to the people that are working washing dishes or cleaning hotel silverware. Reading some passages and have them shocked with recognition even now is remarkable.
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Poverty frees them from ordinary standards of behaviour, just as money frees people from work. &quote;
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Money has become the grand test of virtue. By this test beggars fail, and for this they are despised. &quote;
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The mass of the rich and the poor are differentiated by their incomes and nothing else, and the average millionaire is only the average dishwasher dressed in a new suit. &quote;
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