Monday, February 14, 2011


Cover picture from Wikipedia

True story of a man, imprisoned for a murder he didn't commit and his miraculous escape(s).


Henri Charrière,  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.


Wrongly convicted of murder in France, Henri Charrière or Papillon was sentenced to a life of hard labor at the Devil's Island penal colony.

After boarding the vessel bound for South America, he learned about the brutal life that prisoners must endure at the prison colony. Murders were not uncommon among convicts, and men were cut with makeshift knives for their money (lodged in their rectum). Papillon befriended a former banker convicted of counterfeiting named Louis Dega.

Arriving at the penal colony, Papillon immediately claimed to be ill and was sent to the infirmary. There he collaborated with two individuals to escape from the prison by a sailboat, which they acquired with the assistance of the penal settlement's leper colony at Pigeon Island. They let the current of the Maroni River take them to the Atlantic Ocean, after which they began to sail to the north-west. (source: Wikipedia)


I borrowed the Dutch edition from my friend and house-mate Tessy, I took this book along for my first trip to India. Unfortunately, Tessy had bought the book second hand and it was in a very bad shape. Every time I turned a page, I had to be extremely careful or it would just tear away from his colleagues. Needless to say that after a while I had several "parts" of the book and had to keep everything together.

Just like with Sara her We the Living (Ayn Rand), a shop in Mumbai was able to glue all the parts (and loose sheets!) back together nicely after which I could give it back without too much shame.

As it was a Dutch edition, I couldn't easily pass it on to other people, but while I was travelling with Megumi in Nepal, we found an English version for her in a small guesthouse. We exchanged it for two Indian travel guides in Japanese.

If you have read the book, the movie is not worth it. I don't understand why IMDB rates it 8.0 out of 10.00, I was severely disappointed.


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