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Papillon

4.21 of 5 stars 4.21  ·  rating details  ·  33,200 ratings  ·  1,063 reviews
Henri Charrière, called Papillon, for the butterfly tattoo on his chest, was convicted in Paris in 1931 for a murder he did not commit. When he was sentenced to life imprisonment in the penal colony of French Guiana, one thought obsessed him: escape. After planning and executing a series of treacherous yet failed attempts over many years, Papillon was eventually sent to th ...more
Paperback, 560 pages
Published June 26th 2001 by William Morrow Paperbacks (first published 1969)
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Kai Worley Yes there is a scene he describes where someone is eaten by ants (or something along those lines)!

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Anita
My mother knew Papillon and another one of the characters in the book (Francoise). He was a customer of my uncle's restaurant Il Padrino, in Venezuela, back in the 60's,70's (after this story was told). My brother was just an infant/toddler at this time and they would take turns throwing him in the air, swinging him, etc.. I told this guy Neil about this and he was shocked that my family knew this guy. He had read the book and loved it so much. So as a gift, he gave me a copy of the book.

This b
...more
Diane Librarian
What a story! Papillon is an autobiographical novel about a man who in 1931 was charged with killing someone (of course, the author claims he was innocent) and he was sentenced to a life of hard labor at a penal colony in French Guiana.

After many weeks of planning, he managed to escape on a raft and sailed hundreds of miles to Colombia. He spent several months living happily in a fishing village -- with not one but two wives! -- but he was eventually picked up by the authorities and sent back t
...more
Andrew Smith
I read this book in the mid 70's, as a teenager. Then I read it again. And then, a little while later, I saw the film. The three events have subsequently blended into one and I certainly now have difficulty differentiating the book from the film. But that's no big deal as I know the film followed the written narrative pretty closely. It's a true story of one man's battle against injustice and the terrible personal consequences that transpired.

It left a big impression on me. It was a big story. A
...more
Elizabeth
Dec 08, 2006 Elizabeth rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Adventure Novel lovers
This book is incredible. It is the TRUE story of a prison break from a penal colony in French Guiana which was later made into a movie with Steve McQueen--another of my favorites. If you liked Shawshank, you'll love Papillon.

Henri Charrier, called Papillon for the butterfly tattoo on his chest, was convicted in Paris in 1931 for a murder he did not convict and was shipped off to French Guiana. It takes years and several failed attempts for Papillion to escape in this nail-biting story of amazin
...more
Nidhi
Jun 25, 2007 Nidhi rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Wow! yes
Its my favorite book till date. One word for it - WOW..Its just amazing and the way the author has described the life of a man in the prisons is amazing. Its wonderful how he tells this man's story spanning so many years. I saw this movie as a kid..I must be very young then maybe class 5 or younger..and ever since then I had a desire in me to read this book whenever I get a chance.

Papillon means butterfly and it symbolises the protagonists' desire to get free from the clutches of jail. The vivi
...more
Robert
Papillon was an enjoyable enough summer read; it was just a little hard to suspend my disbelief at times for a supposedly nonfiction endeavor. I was unsurprised to see in my post-reading research that large portions the story were disputed and that several of Charriere's fellow inmates have claimed over the years that he incorporated the experiences of other would-be escapees and presented them as his own story. I guess this book was a precursor of sorts to A Million Little Pieces in that both a ...more
Aaron Arnold
I don't care if this book wasn't a 100% factual, honest-to-God documentary account of what actually happened to this guy - it was a magnificent adventure novel, full of blood and drama and action. From what I can tell, Charrière cobbled the narrative out of his own experiences as a prisoner in the pitiless camps of 1930s French Guyana, plus the stories of a few camp-mates, plus his own dramatic license, emerging with a masterpiece. There were many moments where the story is less than totally pla ...more
Sarah
16/6 - 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 read the translato ...more
mai ahmd
بابليون الفراشة الباحثة عن النور عن الحرية بعد أن فقدها على إثر جريمة فقد على إثرها حياته بالحكم عليه بالسجن المؤبد في سجون فرنسا التي مارست أبشع أنواع الإضطهاد ضد المحكومين , بابي ذا النفس المتمردة والرافضة للخضوع لا ينفك يفكر في الهروب لتحقيق حلمه بالحرية , لاينفك يحلم بالإنتقام ممن كانوا سببا في وقوعه في هذه المحنة القاسية التي حرمته من عائلته وهو في مقتبل العمر , يقوم بابي بتسعة محاولات للهروب من سجانه تعرض بعد كل منها لعقاب لايمكن أن يوصف , كل الأهوال التي عاشها بابي ومنها فقده للأصدقاء إما ...more
سمية عبد العزيز


أفضل أن أكون مجرماً على أن أكون سجّاناً
هكذا قال بابليون
الفتى الفرنسي الذي اُتهم زوراً بجريمة قتل أودعته السجن المؤبد
العدالة الفرنسية جعلته يتمنى هذه الأمنية
جحيث أغلب السجّانين مجرمون حقيقيون وأغلب المسجونين أبرياء أو متهمون بقضايا تافهة
معاصرته السجناء وإخلاصهم ووفائهم لبعضهم بعض جعلته يتمنى هذه الأمنية فليس المهم في أي جانب أنت
ليس المهم أن تكون الأفضل بنظر المجتمع والحكومة بل المهم ما تحمله من روح داخلك
هل هي حقاً روح إنسان!! يشفق على أخيه الإنسان ويهتم به ويرعاه
أم روح حقودة تتمنى الشر للآخر وتقص
...more
Kevin
So fascinating, haunting; you feel the pain and ecstasy. No escape till the last page, you sail along all 'Cavale' with them.

Even though the author is silent all throughout the novel, on the plot of his conviction for murder in France except by saying that he was innocent, we really feel that he was really innocent. This, the author succeeds to prove through various instances in the novel. We also feel many occasions unbelievable where we see he is recognized instantly, and many show sympathy to
...more
Marcio Tomazela
This is the Best book I ever read.

I remember I started to read it when I was 14, and during long travels to sorocaba city I used to read a little of it, getting back in favourite parts.

Henri Charrière did something completally amazing. Not one, but two: First was the escaping itself, from Devil Island.. secound was to describle this with perfect details, something that makes us imagine each movement and each scene...

His passion for life made he survive to a unfair punishment and escape from many
...more
 Linda (Miss Greedybooks)
I wanted to read this book so badly - I was in 7th grade, my sister wanted to take drivers education. She did not want to ride her bike alone, so she bribed me. Allowing me to read on the church steps while I waited for her lesson to be over. BUT I GOT TO READ THE BOOK! I really liked it. The descriptions were so vivid, the story so gripping. I do not know where my sister got the book, I seriously doubt she had read it. OMG Epiphany! It was my dad's book! He gave it to her to bribe me with so sh ...more
Jessica Donaghy
550 pages of prison escapes. Exciting, but wow, so many failed attempts. I figure if Papillon lived through 14 years of horror, the least I can do is read his 550 pages of escapes. He's certainly an example of "do not go gentle."
trishtrash
I was blown away by this book ... by the strength of character displayed by the author (admittedly not always a character to be unreservedly liked), by the mad adventures he undertook, and by the amazing richness of a life that a court tried to throw into a hole and forget about.

There is something so fundamentally heartening about Papillon’s refusal to remain incarcerated for a crime he did not commit (though he ends his tale by admitting that he was a character ripe to be accused of it) that hi
...more
aljouharah altheeyb
تصف هذه الملحمة الإنسانية قصة رجل كافح بأشد مايمكن لهذه الكلمة من معنى ليصنع حريته الخاصة غصباً عن الشرطة والقانون والمجتمع بأسره!
هنري شاريير رجلٌ حُكم عليه بالسجن بسبب جريمة لم يرتكبها “ على حسب قوله”، وأرسل إلى جزيرة غويان الفرنسية “ ثلاث جزر صغيرة مخصصة حصراً لتكون سجناً” . في البداية لم أفهم الأمر، كيف لمجرم أثبت القانون إجرامه أن يسهب في وصف الحياة الشريفة ويصر وبشكل عجيب على تطبيق العدل وإحقاق الحق؟! كيف لرجل وضع تحت اسمه عبارة “ خطر جداً” أن يتحدث وبحماسة شديدة عن الشرف وكلمة الرجال وإسد
...more
Paul Gaya Ochieng Simeon Juma
‘Dear Papillon, you’ve done everything humanly possible to get back your freedom. Fate has been cruel to you. All that is left is for you to blow up the prison.’

Freedom, that is what Papillon was born to fight for. Talk about purpose and destiny. Clyde Griffith was born to fight for class and prestige in the American Tragedy. We are all born for something, how we fight to get them, to reach them, is up to us.

But it is your God given right to fight for what is yours. Whether love, freedom, wealth
...more
i. merey
Damn, but I love the 'redemption' genre! I'm sure there's an official genre title, but that's what I call it. You know the deal: 'Shawshank Redemption', 'A Million Little Pieces', 'Shantaram'.
...The protagonist is thrown into jail (or a mental institution)... often on a drummed up charge. Fighting tooth and nail to survive incarceration with the spirit intact, hungering to escape and punish those who put them there to begin with.

OR the book starts right after the jail-break, and the protag wants
...more
Kata
Henri Charrière recounts his life in prison. Several prisons actually. Even though Charrière's story proceeds that of Leonard Fry I read somewhere that Charrière's recounting of events was not entirely accurate. That same little detail Fry was pinned down to the chair for on Oprah Winfrey's show. I suppose this is a matter of importance for some, but for me, I just want to read their story. In all honestly there were times where Charrière definitely inflated himself.

Charrière breaks out of jail
...more
Normacarpenter
Ce livre autobiographique a inspiré en 1973 le film du même nom de Franklin J. Schaffner avec Steve McQueen, Dustin Hoffman. Très controversé ce livre de souvenirs n’est en fait qu’un assemblage de ses propres anecdotes mêlées à des histoires de compagnons de bagnes. Autrement dit, Charrière se serait largement inspiré des vies d’autres forçats pur écrire son livre. Toutefois les aventures qu’il décrit, s’il est difficile voire impossible de savoir lesquelles peuvent lui être attribuées, n’en es ...more
Cary Griffith
I love adventure reads. When my son told me about this book, he described it with such accolades - 'an incredible adventure story, a roaring ride' - I knew I had to read it. I was familiar with the Steve McQueen, Dustin Hoffman movie (loosely based on the book). But I was unprepared for how much richer, fuller, complete and compelling this book actually turned out to be.
Back to my son, Nick. He talked it up so long and so well I told him if it was that good, why not make it my Christmas gift. H
...more
Nathan Whittle
Papillon was a real page turner for me, as I both marveled at Charrière's audacity and perseverance in his escapes, as well as recoiling in the barbarity of the early 20th century prison system. As to accusations that much of Papillon is fiction, here is my personal take on it- I don't really care. sure, the truth is what is best but whether Charrière or another inmate attempted these various escapes, or even whether these events occurred at all doesn't matter to me- it is a masterful book, show ...more
nt
Para ser lo mas concisa posible: increíble. Es un libro en el que siempre está ocurriendo algo, siempre hay un nuevo acontecimiento. Nunca se detiene. Es decir, es casi imposible que alguien pueda aburrirse con el. Si realmente te envolviste en el libro, cuando lo termines de leer vas a sentir que necesitas saber más. Las ultimas líneas sin duda son la obtención de la meta que Papillon persiguió durante años, pero aún queda mucho mas, muchas mas aventuras, fracasos y victorias, como el mismo las ...more
Lucas
Lucas Pires Morais
Ms.White
Independent Reading
6th October 12
Papillon
By Henri Charriere, Classic Biography, 544 Pages
This book follows the story of Henry Charriere, more commonly known as “Papillon”, for the butterfly tattoo he has on his chest. Papillon was wrongly accused of murdering a pimp in France and was sentenced to life in prison. He requested that he would be sent to the French Guiana prison, called the Bagne. Although conditions of life were much harsher there, Papillon knew this was th
...more
Adam Rabiner
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 ...more
سوسن الجبري

رواية ممتعه بكل المقاييس .. من الصعب التصديق ان كل ما قرأته حصل فعلا .. هنري شاريير رجل الهروب حبيته من قلب :P
.. انسان مغامر حاول الهرب حوالي 9 مرات بعضها نجح وبعضها فشل .. خصوصا ان بعض المحاولات لو فشلت كان ممكن تكلفه حياته .. تذكرت صديق عراقي لما قص علي حكايته انه ايام صدام لما كان مجند تجنيد اجباري كان مخير اما يموت في حروب ماله علاقه فيها او انه يهرب و حزتها لو انمسك يقتل فورا .. واختار الهروب و تزوير بطاقة له وتغيير شكله و في النهاية بعد مروره من نقطة تفتيش الى نقطة تفتيش قدر يهرب .. قرار
...more
Gabriel
More than a Bolt for Freedom

This is not a plain little story about some convict who escapes from prison. After thoroughly following Charriere's words, I came to realize it is a lot more than that.

Fiction/non-fiction?
First of all, this is not a fictional book. Many reviewers, authors, journalists, or as I call them moaners, argue that this, by all means, cannot be non-fiction due to the fact that the author is too emotional and impressionistic in his writing. I dare to disagree.
In my sociologica
...more
Fraser
Another one of those books always in the periphery of the "to-read" list. Having read much about this book in terms of the authenticity of Charriere's life story and version of events, I actually wanted to read it even more.

It is certainly my opinion that the way the book reads seems to back up that Charriere did add things or use other convicts stories. The way that 'Papillon' seems to be central, essential and omnipresent to every significant event, his incredible influence at various key poin
...more
Amy
Papillon by Henri Charrière
OK, it's been a while since I finished this book, but I still have some strong feelings about it. It's an autobiography of a French man convicted of murder at the beginning of last century and shipped off to a penal colony that was eventually shut down for its deplorable conditions. He spends several decades attempting to escape (and re-escape) and exact revenge on those responsible for his conviction.

And there's the problem. He says he's not guilty, but doesn't provide a convincing arugment, j
...more
Joe
This book is an absolute page turner. I read it many years ago and then again recently. The synopsis is slightly misleading in that Henri aka Papillion was sentenced to life in prison for a murder he did commit. He killed a pimp who was after his sister never believing any judge would find him guilty enough for such a horrific sentence. The French penal colonies make a stay in Sağmalcılar seem like a vacation. The film adaptation while a terrific movie only scratches the surface of Henri's tribu ...more
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957910
Henri Charrière was a convicted murderer chiefly known as the author of Papillon, a hugely successful memoir of his incarceration in and escape from a penal colony on French Guiana.
More about Henri Charrière...
Banco: The Further Adventures of Papillon Papillon / Banco Papillion

Share This Book

“We have too much technological
progress, life is too hectic, and our society has only one goal: to invent
still more technological marvels to make life even easier and better.
The craving for every new scientific discovery breeds a hunger for
greater comfort and the constant struggle to achieve it. All that kills the
soul, kills compassion, understanding, nobility. It leaves no time for
caring what happens to other people, least of all criminals. Even the
officials in Venezuela's remote areas are better for they're also
concerned with public peace. It gives them many headaches, but they
seem to believe that bringing about a man's salvation is worth the
effort. I find that magnificent.”
33 likes
“It was worth having made this break for the people, the human beings it had brought me into contact with. Although it had failed, my escape had been a victory, merely by having enriched my heart with the friendship of these wonderful people. No, I was not sorry. I had done it.” 9 likes
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