Down and Out in Paris and London

Down and Out in Paris and London

A Novel

Book - 1961
Average Rating:
Rate this:
The adventures of a broke British writer as he works as a dishwasher in Paris and stays in homeless shelters in London.
Publisher: New York : Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, c1961.
ISBN: 9780156262248
Branch Call Number: 914.4361 ORWELL
Characteristics: 213 p. ; 19 cm.


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
Feb 07, 2020

I read this for the "Set In A Country You've Never Visited Before" part of my 2020 reading challenge. I was surprised how much I enjoyed this. Plot-wise not too much happened, but I really liked the writing and his detailed account of being poor & homeless while living in Paris and London.

Jun 16, 2019

Consisting of very chapters (5 to 6 pages each), this book gives a vivid description of the lifestyle of the poor that Orwell experimentally endured in order to get material to write this book. At times touching and disgusting, it doesn't merit a rereading. The quality of the prose narrative, the descriptions, especially of Paris and its restaurant sub-cultures is good.

Manateestarz Jan 11, 2018

This book is still a classic. I have read it recently and enjoyed it again. Mr. Orwell shows in his memoir of the poorest working classes in both cities, that in some way life has not changed.

Sep 06, 2017

If this ruins your vision of Paris or of restaurants you should be should be grateful you have no real idea about either. I can tell you having worked as a waiter in London -- some 50 years after this book was published -- that the accounts are fairly true although the slang has certainly changed. With his usual insight Orwell nails it, and exposes the dirty underbelly to which most of us that will gather here should be glad to never submit.

Apr 20, 2016

The first half of the book is about living poor and dirty in Paris, looking for work, being foreign, drunk, etc. After finding work at a hotel as a "plongeur," kind of a general helper and dishwasher, a step below busboy, it describes the grueling work, filthy employee hygiene and unsanitary restaurant conditions, long hours, and low pay. The perfect socialist conclusion is that there shouldn't be plongeurs to do this work because people with more money shouldn't have more money, in the first place, and, therefore, shouldn't stay in hotels, creating the need for this type of work and causing people to be employed as plongeurs, period. For the average person, like me, you come away with the thought that you would never, ever want to eat in a Paris restaurant. 2 stars for spoiling my vision.

redban Feb 02, 2015

This is a fun book, but you will also begin to build a complete picture of the author behind Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four, and why Democratic Socialism and the working class mean so much to Orwell.

The book by Orwell that truly illustrates this: Homage to Catalonia.

Dec 05, 2014

He's young and innocent, sleeping on park benches and working for a meager supper washing dishes in squalid restaurants. His descriptions are hilarious.

jlazcan Oct 15, 2011

If you have ever had to live on $2 a day or worked as a busboy in a restaurant you will understand Orwell's situation in this book. I had to suppress my laughter at various times on the Subway while reading it. There are some dated descriptions that some may find racist or offensive, but it was written decades ago and I chose to let them slide. The book is very entertaining and simple and easy to read like all of Orwell’s work. You can tell that he really lived these experiences and his first hand accounts are both funny and descriptive. If you like “Homage to Catalonia”, “Burmese Days” or many of Orwell’s short stories you will probably like this book too.

SB2000 May 04, 2011

Another Orwell classic. Atmospheric, mostly accutely obeserved and a great read. Some elements are a little overdrawn but overall, it is a visceral portrait of poverty in two of the great cities of pre-war / depression era Europe. A "must read".

Aug 16, 2010

This is an excellent example of a kind of 1930's 'walkabout literature'--a disaffected individual who walks away from his (or her) circumstances. Other examples are by Laurie Lee and Patrick Leigh Fermor. Orwell's account of his restaurant job in Paris is especially harrowing, but the story of being on the bum in England is also pretty depressing.

View All Comments


Add a Quote
Feb 12, 2012

"Why are beggars despised? I believe it is for the simple reason that they fail to earn a living. In practice no one cares whether work is useful or useless; the sole thing demanded is that it shall be profitable."


Add Age Suitability

There are no ages for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at CCCLib

To Top