DOWN AND OUT IN PARIS AND LON­DON

North & South - - Review -

GE­ORGE OR­WELL ( TEXT PUB­LISH­ING, $15.99) It had to be a first: an Eton- ed­u­cated man be­comes a tramp and, with a graphic eye for de­tail and a way with words, writes one of the great mem­oirs about liv­ing poor in two big cities. Pub­lished in 1933, Down and Out in Paris and Lon­don was Ge­orge Or­well’s first book of ge­nius. In Paris, starv­ing, he scores a job at Ho­tel X as a “plongeur”. On the res­tau­rant lad­der, there is nowhere lower than dish­wash­ing, and de­scrib­ing his work­ing con­di­tions in a few words is im­pos­si­ble: the heat, the noise, the stench and sheer hor­ror of 18-hour days in the ho­tel’s bow­els needs to be read to be be­lieved. In con­trast, he knew only too well what was on the other side: “There sat the cus­tomers in all their splen­dour – spot­less table­cloths, bowls of flow­ers, mir­rors and gilt cor­nices and painted cheru­bim; and here, just a few feet away, we in our dis­gust­ing filth.” JU­DITH BARAGWANATH

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