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Papillon by Henri Charrière

Papillon (1969)

by Henri Charrière

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Papillon Series (1)

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Simply brilliant. The thought that this man just wrote down his experiences and was able to recall so much in such great detail is phenomenal. Add to that the fact that he wasn't a writer, but wrote what he knew. And what he knew was endlessly fascinating. You can tell that no one tried to edit him but just let him speak for himself because occasionally he would change tense from past to present. I'm sure he whitewashed some of his more violent experiences so he could still portray himself as the good guy but it doesn't detract from the tale. The most fascinating part, to me, was his time with the Indians ... truly amazing. He creates a vibrant picture of a simple, primitive but mostly happy existence. Truly fascinating book. ( )
  AliceAnna | Aug 17, 2014 |
Having seen the famous movie so many years ago with Steve McQueen in a great performance I thought I would take a shot at the book. I wanted to get it at my local library and all they had were two versions, one in French and one in Spanish. How about English I asked. Months later one finally surfaced. Overall I thought the book was well written and quite the adventure yarn. But with these first person narratives I always wonder how embellished they are.

One thing for sure was the movie cut out a lot of the book material and seemed to reshuffle the order of events somewhat. It is hard to believe a man could survive what he went through for so long a time while so many around him went down. But it is a testimony to the power of the human spirit when it focuses on getting to the one thing many of us hold as the ultimate objective in life, freedom. ( )
  knightlight777 | Apr 15, 2014 |
Naysayers jumped on Henri Charriere's, aka Papillon, autobiography from the start, calling into question the truth of his harrowing tales of escapes and captures from a penal colony in French Guiana in the 1930s and 40s. The adventures detailed here may in fact not all be those of Papillon. Perhaps Charriere did synthesize the cavales of many other bagnards and claim them all as his own. But that should not really detract from the harrowing adventures contained in this book. They convey a truth about the brutality of the French justice system of a century ago, the capacities of man to be cruel and to suffer, but beyond everything the desire to be free, at any cost. After fourteen years Papillon did achieve that. We may never know the truth for sure. But we have one hell of an enjoyable book (and movie) to remember this remarkable (if somewhat unreliable) man by. ( )
  OccassionalRead | Sep 10, 2013 |
A rousing tale of adventure that gives the account of the only man ever to escape from Devil's Island. There has been questions over the years about the book's authenticity, but -- true or false -- it's perfect escapist fare (pun intended.) ( )
  hayduke | Apr 3, 2013 |
French Guiana.

Eh. As long as you understand it's fiction (in the style made famous by [b:A Million Little Pieces|1241|A Million Little Pieces|James Frey|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1157865754s/1241.jpg|3140930]) it's interesting enough, though it's picaresque and there's really no developmental self-reflection. There is more insertion into and extraction of objects from the anus than in much pornography. Really, it's enough to make you rethink shaking hands with the guy.

Poor Papillon, who protests his innocence while evincing a startling degree of criminal knowledge and underworld relationships, periodically becomes enraged and spews angry fantasies. Yeah, I'd let him into my house. If you want to see the basis for the movie, read this. If you want to read a prison narrative, there are better, and more true to life. ( )
  OshoOsho | Mar 30, 2013 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Charrière, Henriprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
O'Brian, PatrickTranslatormain authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To the Venezuelan people,
to the humble fisherman in the Gulf of Paria,
to everybody-the intellectuals, the military
and all the others-who gave me a chance
to live again,

and to Rita, my wife and dearest friend.
First words
It was a knockout blow--a punch so overwhelming that I didn't get back on my feet for fourteen years.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0061120669, Paperback)

Henri Charrière, called "Papillon," for the butterfly tattoo on his chest, was convicted in Paris in 1931 of a murder he did not commit. Sentenced to life imprisonment in the penal colony of French Guiana, he became obsessed with one goal: escape. After planning and executing a series of treacherous yet failed attempts over many years, he was eventually sent to the notorious prison, Devil's Island, a place from which no one had ever escaped . . . until Papillon. His flight to freedom remains one of the most incredible feats of human cunning, will, and endurance ever undertaken.

Charrière's astonishing autobiography, Papillon, was published in France to instant acclaim in 1968, more than twenty years after his final escape. Since then, it has become a treasured classic -- the gripping, shocking, ultimately uplifting odyssey of an innocent man who would not be defeated.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:53:28 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Condemned for a murder he had not committed, Henri Charrie??re (nicknamed Papillon) was sent to the penal colony of French Guiana. 42 days after his arrival he made his first break for freedom. Recaptured, he was sent to Devil's Island, a hell-hole of disease & brutality. In 13 years he made nine daring escapes.… (more)

» see all 3 descriptions

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