George Orwell: The Critical Heritage

By Jeffrey Meyers | Go to book overview
Save to active project

than even the ‘spike’ lays down, or else a hypocritical conformity with religious observances is the price to be paid for a meal. It is a vivid picture of an apparently mad world that Mr Orwell paints in his book, a world where unfortunate men are preyed upon by parasites, both insect and human, where a straight line of demarcation is drawn above which no man can hope to rise once he has fallen below its level. One lays down his book wondering why men living in such conditions do not commit suicide; but Mr Orwell conveys the impression that they are too depressed and hopeless for such a final and definite effort as self-inflicted death.


C. Day Lewis, Adelphi

February 1933, p. 382

Cecil Day Lewis (1904-72), English Poet Laureate 1968-72.

Orwell’s book is a tour of the under-world, conducted without hysteria or prejudice, and if the discovery of facts made any real impression on the individual conscience, the body of active informers in this country would be inevitably increased by the number of readers of this book. The writer found himself in Paris without money or work. He becomes acquainted with all the squalid shifts of poverty, the extremities of dirt and hunger. Finally, he obtains a job as a ‘plongeur’ or scullion in a big hotel; ‘plongeurs’ in Paris work anything from fourteen to seventeen hours a day and, at the three rush hours, behind-the-scenes is a simple mediaeval hell of heat, filth and demoniac activity. Incidentally, if you wish to eat a meal in a big hotel without acute nausea, you had better skip pp. 107-109. Orwell’s study of the relations between the different branches of the personnel—head waiters, waiters, cooks, plongeurs, etc., is a model of clarity and good sense. And, as he says, the plongeur’s work ‘is more or less useless…. For, after all, where is the real need of big hotels and smart restaurants?


Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this page

Cited page

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
George Orwell: The Critical Heritage
Table of contents

Table of contents



Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 392

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?