George Orwell: Bookshop Memories

Orwell’s on grumpy pills here, as he describes the experience – which many of us have shared – of having your dream job suck the life out of you and the dream. Strangely, he sounds exactly like Bernard Black. Perhaps his “Manny” chowed down on bluebottles instead of bees?

…it is a humane trade which is not capable of being vulgarized beyond a certain point. The combines can never squeeze the small independent bookseller out of existence as they have squeezed the grocer and the milkman. But the hours of work are very long – I was only a part-time employee, but my employer put in a seventy-hour week, apart from constant expeditions out of hours to buy books – and it is an unhealthy life. As a rule a bookshop is horribly cold in winter, because if it is too warm the windows get misted over, and a bookseller lives on his windows. And books give off more and nastier dust than any other class of objects yet invented, and the top of a book is the place where every bluebottle prefers to die.

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