Monday, June 25, 2007

Down and Out in Paris and London

George Orwell (6/25/1903– 1/21/1950) died young. He's still widely read, but I remember reading his first novel, Down and Out in Paris and London (1933) while traveling on a shoestring in Paris and London. I loved it, found it dyspeptic, hilarious, and engaging. Ultimately, it underscores class differences and their impact on the quality of daily life. In short, one was either the served or the server. Today, I suppose, we are both -- depending on the situation and how much bling we're carrying. Certainly we're not egalitarian in the sense that everyone does not cheerfully pitch in for the well-being of all. Unless it's through doublespeak.

Most of Orwell's writing is available on the internet, full-text, searchable, and free to anyone who can read.

Better to be down and out in London and Paris, or Lost in Space with your family, a certain Dr. Smith, and a talking robot that proclaims "Danger! Danger!" from time to time?

Today's Rune: The Mystery Rune.

Birthdays: Antonio Gaudí, George Orwell (Eric Arthur Blair), June Lockhart, Carly Simon, Jimmie Walker (“Dyn-O-Mite!”), Karisma Kapoor, Maja Latinović.



Johnny Yen said...

June Lockhart was another woman I always had a crush on as a kid!

Orwell was a genius. Back in 1984, I read a great article in Time Magazine written by Walter Cronkite, in which Cronkite expressed his belief that Orwell's "1984" has been completely misunderstood. It wasn't solely a swipe at Soviet totalitarianism (although that was part of it). He was warning of a future in which society is controlled by bread and circuses, and that a perpetual war state is created in order to suppress civil liberties and dissent. Sound familiar?

One of his essays that has stuck with me over the years is called, I think, Killing an Elephant. It's based on an event that occurred when he was a colonial policeman in Burma, and is called to kill an elephant that is rampaging through a market. He brilliantly encapsulated the colonial experience in this story.

lulu said...

In another of those cosmic interconnections, I spent my time on the plane this week reading Anthony Bourdain's newest book, in which he talked extensively about Down and Out in Paris and London.