Orwell and Hemingway: Paris and Hunger

George Orwell and Ernest Hemingway had little in common except hunger in Paris and their accounts even of this are very different. Orwell wrote of desperate and urgent starvation in Down and Out in Paris and London. In A Moveable Feast Hemingway leaves you thinking he just gave up dining for a while to write stories.


Paris, Tour Eiffel

The two writers shared a few circumstances in Paris. They both moved there around the same age: Hemingway was 23 and Orwell 25. They lived in the same part of the Latin Quarter, Hemingway in the rue du Cardinal Lemoine and Orwell in the rue du Pot de Fer, and they both worked as journalists and wrote fiction. That is the extent of their intersection.

They lived in Paris consecutively. Hemingway left in March 1928 after six years, having enjoyed the company of the expatriate American literati and achieved success with The Sun Also Rises. He also left with a different wife, Pauline Pfeiffer, the daughter of a wealthy Arkansas family. Orwell arrived about six months later in the Spring and stayed less than two years before he returned to England destitute. Continue reading

The Orwellian Handout

In the recollection of his poverty in Down and Out in Paris and London, George Orwell ends with a beginning:

“I shall never again think that all tramps are drunken scoundrels, nor expect a beggar to be grateful when I give him a penny, nor be surprised if men out of work lack energy, nor subscribe to the Salvation Army, nor pawn my clothes, nor refuse a handbill, nor enjoy a meal at a smart restaurant.”

The Orwellian Handout

Orwell would not be the friend of every blogger who is well-off, educated and energised enough to try to influence other web users, but every blogger would welcome his attitude of never refusing a flyer.

There are probably around 100 million blogs worldwide and, with nearly 2.5 billion people connected to the web, about 25 people for each one. On these numbers, bloggers really ask people to accept their ideas as if taking a pamphlet from a speaker on a Sunday soapbox. Continue reading