How George Orwell's First Novel \"Niko i niÅta u Parizu i Londonu\" Explores Poverty and Society in Two Great Cities
George Orwell is best known for his dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four and his satirical novella Animal Farm, but his first novel, Niko i niÅta u Parizu i Londonu (Down and Out in Paris and London), is also a remarkable work of literature that deserves more attention. Published in 1933, it is a semi-autobiographical account of Orwell's experiences of living in poverty and working as a dishwasher, a teacher, and a tramp in Paris and London. It is a vivid and honest portrayal of the hardships, humiliations, and hopes of the underclass in two of the most glamorous and influential cities in Europe.
The novel consists of two parts. The first part is set in Paris, where Orwell describes his struggles to survive on a meager income, his friendship with a Russian waiter named Boris, his work in various hotels and restaurants, and his encounters with thieves, beggars, prostitutes, and other characters from the lower depths of society. He exposes the harsh realities behind the glittering facade of the city of lights, such as the exploitation, corruption, and filth that pervade the service industry. He also reflects on the political and social implications of poverty, such as its effects on human dignity, morality, and solidarity.
The second part is set in London, where Orwell joins the ranks of the homeless and unemployed. He wanders the streets with a motley crew of vagabonds, such as Paddy, a former sailor, Bozo, a screever (street artist) and amateur astronomer, and Deafie, a deaf-mute beggar. He stays in various lodging houses, spike houses (charity shelters), and common lodging houses (cheap hostels), where he observes the misery, boredom, and hopelessness of his fellow tramps. He also criticizes the inefficiency, cruelty, and hypocrisy of the social system that fails to provide adequate relief or opportunities for the destitute. He argues that poverty is not only a material problem but also a spiritual one that deadens the mind and soul.
Niko i niÅta u Parizu i Londonu is not only a memoir but also a protest against the domination of man over man. It is an exciting testimony of a time and people that Orwell shared the fate of living at the bottom. It is also a powerful expression of Orwell's humanism, his compassion for the oppressed, his hatred for injustice, and his belief in democratic socialism. It is a novel that challenges us to look beyond the stereotypes and prejudices that separate us from our fellow human beings and to recognize our common humanity.
Orwell's novel is also a personal journey of self-discovery and artistic development. He wrote it after returning from Burma, where he had served as a policeman in the Indian Imperial Police from 1922 to 1927. He was disillusioned by the brutality and corruption of the British colonial system and decided to resign and pursue his dream of becoming a writer. He adopted the pen name George Orwell, inspired by the River Orwell in East Anglia, where he had spent some time as a child. He also chose to live among the poor and the oppressed, in order to understand their lives and express their voice. He believed that a writer should be honest and independent, and that his duty was to expose the truth and fight for justice.
Orwell's novel is also a historical document that captures the social and political atmosphere of the interwar period in Europe. It reflects the impact of the Great Depression, which caused mass unemployment, poverty, and social unrest. It also foreshadows the rise of fascism and communism, which Orwell witnessed firsthand during his involvement in the Spanish Civil War from 1936 to 1937. He joined the POUM (Workers' Party of Marxist Unification), a Trotskyist militia that fought against the fascist forces of General Franco. He was wounded in the throat by a sniper and narrowly escaped arrest by the Stalinist faction that suppressed the POUM. He wrote about his experiences in his book Homage to Catalonia, which was also a critique of the propaganda and distortion of facts by both sides of the conflict.
Orwell's novel is also a literary masterpiece that showcases his skills as a storyteller, a humorist, and a critic. He uses a variety of techniques, such as anecdotes, dialogue, description, satire, irony, and symbolism, to create a vivid and engaging narrative. He also employs different styles and registers, ranging from colloquial to formal, from realistic to allegorical, from humorous to serious. He demonstrates his mastery of language and his ability to coin memorable phrases and neologisms, such as \"doublethink\", \"newspeak\", \"thoughtcrime\", and \"Orwellian\". He also reveals his influences and inspirations from other writers, such as Charles Dickens, Jonathan Swift, Jack London, Henry Miller, and Arthur Koestler. 248dff8e21