“…With bread and margarine in your belly, you go out and look into the shop windows. Everywhere there is food insulting you in huge, wasteful piles; whole dead pigs, baskets of hot loaves, great yellow blocks of butter, strings of sausages, mountains of potatoes, vast Gruyere cheeses like grindstones…”
- George Orwell, Down and Out in Paris and London
I love this book so much. I’ve read and re-read Down and Out loads of times, and I heard an extract being read on the radio the other night, which reminded me to share these two great 1970s covers.
In both books, Orwell explores poverty - in the coal areas of Yorkshire and Lancashire at a time of mass unemployment, where people slept as many as eleven to a room in slum dwellings; and in Paris and London, where Orwell spent weeks scraping by on tiny sums of money from menial jobs, or ‘tramped’ the streets and slept in squalid shelters.
They’re my favourite books by Orwell; vivid, fearsome, full of human detail and a forceful yet intimate prose.