George Orwell on Bozo the Resilient Philosopher

I recently signed up for the “Book Freak” newsletter by Mark Frauenfelder who extracts advice from the books he read. In his latest post, he shared this striking anecdote from George Orwell’s “Down and Out in Paris and London” (1933): 

Bozo: The Resilient Philosopher of the Streets

A homeless pavement artist named Bozo was one of the most fascinating characters Orwell encountered during his time on the streets of London. Bozo had a severely deformed right leg and had to walk with the assistance of two sticks. Despite his physical challenges and extreme state of poverty, Bozo had a positive outlook and curiosity about science and art. Orwell was impressed by Bozo’s resilience and his ability to maintain his dignity and sense of self.

Bozo: If you’ve got any education, it don’t matter to you if you’re on the road for the rest of your life.

Orwell: Well, I’ve found just the contrary. It seems to me that when you take a man’s money away he’s fit for nothing from that moment.

Bozo: No, not necessarily. If you set yourself to it, you can live the same life, rich or poor. You can still keep on with your books and your ideas. You just got to say to yourself, “I’m a free man in here” (he tapped his forehead) and you’re all right.