George Orwell: The Critical Heritage

By Jeffrey Meyers | Go to book overview

for a period, into living a tramp’s life in England. Again he met with degradation, hopelessness, squalor.

His account is genuine, unexaggerated and intelligent. Possessing a sense of character, Mr Orwell adorns his narrative with portraits and vignettes that give the book interest and concreteness. In addition, he contrasts poverty in France and England, and his contrasts tend somewhat to reveal the differences between the two nations. And with humility he suggests, as a final word, that his study is only a beginning in understanding this problem. His story permits only a thin trickle of ooze to come to the surface. Orwell has escaped from the depths. There are thousands to whom no door of escape is opened. Down and Out in Paris and London will give readers a sense of what life means to these thousands.


7.

Daniel George, Tribune

24 January 1941, p. 13

Daniel George, English critic and anthologist.

And now for a Penguin which also seems to deserve the attention of Tribune readers—Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell. Nothing indicates that it has been published before, but I think it must be an early Orwell. His style has improved.

Labelled as fiction, it is autobiographical in form, recounting adventures of an Englishman (a gentleman, an ex-public school boy, and, it appears later, a journalist) experiencing temporary poverty in the company of queer ‘characters. ’ They and the narrator make this a book of such lively interest that scepticism seldom grows out of surprise.

Much of it is, I should judge, written from first-hand knowledge. There are descriptions of work in Paris hotels and restaurants for which no one but a retired plongeur with a ready pen could have been

-47-

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