Wednesday, the 8th of June, and time for Shelf Control once again! Shelf Control is a weekly feature hosted by Lisa at Bookshelf Fantasies, and celebrates the books waiting to be read on your TBR piles/mountains. To participate, all you do is pick a book from your TBR pile, and write a post about it–what its about, why you want to read it, when you got it, and such. If you participate, don’t forget to link back to Lisa’s page, and do also leave your links in the comments below as I’d love to check out your picks as well!

While I am certainly pleased that I am reading more nonfiction than I was picking up, despite wanting to, earlier, as is the case with my fiction piles (e and physical), I am of course tackling my review copies on priority with others waiting… patiently… or not! Today’s shelf control pick is from an author whose fiction I’ve certainly read (Animal Farm still rates among the scariest books I’ve ever read), but some of whose essays and other writings are still waiting on the TBR mountain. And among these is Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell.

George Orwell or Eric Arthur Blair (1903–1950) was an English novelist, essayist, critic and journalist. Born in Motihari, Bengal, he moved to England with his mother and sister when he was one. He was educated at St Cyprian’s Eastbourne, Wellington and Eton, before joining the Imperial Police, and going on to serve in Burma. He went on leave after contracting Dengue in 1927 and decided not to return to Burma and his police post. After this he spent time in London and Paris, exploring poorer parts, and donning the attire of a tramp. All this gave him material for the book featured today.

Down and Out in London and Paris (1933) is described as a ‘fictional memoir’ which narrates with humour and with no self-pity Orwell’s adventures in Paris where he worked as a dishwasher or plongoeur in posh French restaurants, and experiencing the world of tramps, street people and free lodging houses in London (wile waiting for a job). The book explores poverty, society and exposes the cities for what they were.

I’ve been meaning to explore Orwell’s nonfiction writings for a long time now, and this sounds like a fascinating one to begin with since it gives interesting insights through Orwell’s eyes and pen into two great cities of his time. What is also intriguing is that this isn’t entirely fiction or nonfiction according to is description, and I’m curious to see how the portraits of the two cities are painted.

Have you read this one? How did you like it? Any collections of Orwell’s essays that you’d recommend particularly? Looking forward to your thoughts and recommendations!

Book description and cover image from Goodreads as always and author information from Wikipedia

Lisa’s pick this week is The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse by Louise Eldrich, the fascinating sounding story of a priest, Father Damien Modeste who has served his beloved native American tribe, but now at the end of his life, dreads the discovery that he is a woman who has lived as a man!


8 thoughts on “Shelf Control #188: Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell

  1. I haven’t read this but I enjoyed Homage to Catalonia. It’s definitely factual though, so I’m intrigued by the idea that this one is described as a ‘fictional memoir’ – not quite sure what that means!


  2. I bought Orwell’s The Clergyman’s Daughter knowing this fictionally covered some of the same ground as your title while touching on Southwold where Orwell’s parents lived and where we had a week’s holiday a year or two back.

    Liked by 1 person

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