Book of the Month: Down and Out in Paris and London – George Orwell

Down and Out in Paris in London
Book of the Month at Caxton College

“Reading a book is like re-writing it for yourself.” Angela Carter

We have some avid readers here at Caxton College and we thought it was about time that we gave students and staff an opportunity to share the books that they love. Therefore, each month we will feature a reading recommendation from a student and also one from a member of staff.

Here you will find books that have challenged, changed outlooks, provided an escape in times of stress and even changed lives. If you would like to share your own recommendation, we’d love to hear from you.

Happy reading!

Lindsay Kelly, Secondary English teacher at Caxton College

Down and Out in Paris in London – George Orwell

Recommendation by Kevin Worthington, Secondary Maths teacher at Caxton College

I remember reading Down and Out in Paris and London when I was still at school myself. It was one of a few books I´d read by George Orwell at the time.

In this book, Orwell first tells of his experiences living on the breadline in 1930s Paris and then later wandering the streets of London, staying in homeless shelters and hostels, surviving on charity. As opposed to interviewing people who were living on the streets, Orwell actually experienced the life himself. He set off for France with just enough money to get modestly settled and then relied on wages he made from cleaning dishes in a Parisian restaurant. In London he simply left his house with nothing but the clothes on his back and lived on the streets.

I remember being impressed by how the experiences were related first hand. Tough experiences too; living rough, Orwell talks about the troubles and issues he faces trying to get by. It made the accounts more believable to me. You could trust what he was saying. What has remained with me the most though are his descriptions of the people he meets. Among the personalities we learn about are academics, artists, ex-army generals… all with a variety of reasons for how they have found themselves there on the streets.

As well as being honest, insightful and thought provoking, Orwell´s writing is clear and accessible. In Down and Out in Paris and London he opens your eyes to a whole different world which is right on our doorsteps – a world we are fully aware exists but are far from understanding or appreciating.

I would recommend you read all of George Orwell´s novels and essays. His books are among the most important pieces of work of the last century. If you have yet to read any of his work, Down and Out in Paris and London is an ideal place to start.

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