Papillon

Papillon

Book - 2006
Average Rating:
1
Rate this:

Henri Charri#65533;re, nicknamed "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.

Charri#65533;re's astonishing autobiography, Papillon, was first 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.
Publisher: New York ; Toronto : HarperCollins, 2006, c1970
Edition: 1st Harper Perennial modern classics ed. --
ISBN: 9780061120664
0061120669
Branch Call Number: 365.6092 Charr 3558ad 1
Characteristics: xi, 544 p. :,map. --

Opinion

From the critics


Community Activity

Comment

Add a Comment

s
Sarah1984
May 05, 2016

Knowing nothing about this book or Charrière, only knowing the word papillon and it's English translation through the fact that there's a dog breed that's called papillon because the dog's fluffy ears (vaguely) resemble a butterfly's wings, I picked this up off the 'new and recently returned' shelf because the blurb on the back described it as "A classic memoir of prison breaks and adventure". And 'adventure' sounded like the right genre for me at that moment in time.
I'm a bit disappointed with Charrière's description of his encounter with the lepers. He talks about a man who hands him a cup of coffee and then exclaims "Oh, where's my finger gone?". Henri finds it stuck to the outside of his cup and hands it back to him. According to Wikipedia this sequence is impossible, leprosy, despite all the old wives' tales, does not lead to body parts falling off here, there and everywhere. This next passage is taken straight from Wikipedia's page on leprosy
"Initially, infections are without symptoms and typically remain this way for 5 to as long as 20 years. Symptoms that develop include granulomas (loosely described as 'a small nodule') of the nerves, respiratory tract, skin, and eyes. This may result in a lack of ability to feel pain and thus loss of parts of extremities due to repeated injuries.
So, therefore that part of the scene must be a figment of Charrière's imagination as that man's finger cannot have just come off without some kind of trauma happening to it first.
The blurb on the back of my copy reads as follows:
"Condemned for a murder he did not commit, Henri Charrière, known as Papillon, was sent to the penal colony of French Guiana. Forty-two days after his arrival he made his first break, travelling a thousand gruelling miles in an open boat. Recaptured, his spirit remained untamed - in thirteen years he made nine amazingly daring escapes, including one from the notorious Devil's Island.
An immediate sensation upon its 1969 publication, Papillon is one of the greatest adventure stories ever told, a true tale of courage, resilience and an unbreakable will."
"...Nine amazingly daring escapes..." That is a very misleading statement. From what the blurb says I was expecting Papillon to escape (by which I mean, and thought everyone else meant, leave his jail/cage/penal colony for at least 24 hours before being recaptured) on nine different occasions. What the blurb really means is that he attempts to escape nine times, he only succeeds twice, the first attempt when he managed to stay out for 11 months and the final, which I'm currently in the middle of.
Finally finished it! *relieved sigh* I've currently got this shelved as an autobiography/biography, but I hesitate to leave it there. Modern researchers don't believe Charrière's continual claims of complete honesty regarding his book. They now say that it's very likely the book is a combination of other inmate's adventures and Charrière's imagination. According to all available records Charrière never spent any time on Devil's Island, and like with the leprosy situation I described above he got a number of pertinent details regarding the geography of Devil's Island wrong. A French journalist maintains that only "10% of Papillon represents the truth".
Learning that a book like this is pretty much just a well-imagined adventure story in the vein of Robinson Crusoe or Treasure Island takes a bit of the shine off story. It's no longer as fantastically amazing because it's not real. I went into the reading of this book believing that it was a true story and I am certainly disappointed to come to the conclusion that there's very little truth to be found anywhere in the book.

Age Suitability

Add Age Suitability

There are no age suitabilities for this title yet.

Summary

Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.

Notices

Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.

Quotes

Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number

Subject Headings

  Loading...

Find it at WPPL

  Loading...
[]
[]
To Top