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Henri Charrière (1909–1973)

Autor(a) de Papillon

15+ Works 4,559 Membros 69 Críticas 2 Favorited

About the Author


Obras por Henri Charrière

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Conhecimento Comum

Nome canónico
Charrière, Henri
Outros nomes
Data de nascimento
Data de falecimento
País (no mapa)
Local de nascimento
Saint-Étienne-de-Lugdarès, Ardèche, France
Local de falecimento
Madrid, Spain
Locais de residência
Ardèche, France
Prison of St-Laurent-du-Maroni, French Guiana
casino owner
French Navy

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Henri Charrière's book Papillon was published as his autobiography; but most critics now believe it is not a true account of his own life, but a mixture of events that happened to him and to many others.



I was first intimidated by the size of the book, but quickly got hooked to this incredible tale of a man seeking to regain his freedom.

The book is eventful and rich. The author digs deep into exposing his motivations, which are more complex than simply getting out of jail for the sake of it.

It is perhaps not the most sophisticated littérature, yet it had a significant historical impact and remains a page-turner even today.
Bloum | 63 outras críticas | Feb 23, 2024 |
"Live, live, live. Each time I was tempted to despair, I would repeat three times: 'As long as there's life, there's hope'. "

It is 1931, and 25-year-old Henri ‘Papillon’ Charrière is convicted of murder. His sentence: life imprisonment in the infamous penal colonies of French Guiana. Papillon is innocent of the crime for which he has been condemned and he leaves France with a burning desire to escape and revenge himself upon those responsible for this miscarriage of justice.

The novel is semi-fictional, with even the author later admitting the autobiographical narrative to be ‘only 75% true’. The book certainly stretches the truth at times but there's also a brutal honesty about the narrative. Papillon is certainly no angel and however much he embellished the details, Charrière certainly did experience the inhuman conditions of the penal colonies and made a successful break for freedom which took some fourteen years to achieve. You have to admire his tenacity if nothing else.

"As I saw how the past faded away, growing less important in comparison with everyday life, it seemed to me that once you got to the penal settlement you must almost forget what you have been, how or why you had landed up there, and concentrate upon one thing alone – escape. I was wrong, because the most important and most engrossing thing is above all to keep yourself alive."

Unfortunately whilst the bones of an incredible story are there some wild flights of fantasy seriously undermines the readers' credulity at times. Some of the author’s purported adventures and escape attempts are likely to be based on stories Charrière heard from other prisoners, however, if the story is simply taken at face value, it's an inspirational struggle for freedom, human resilience and unlikely heroism. This is particularly true during the first half of the novel but the later chapters becomes less gripping and it begins to feel a little repetitive.

The book also contains a litany of casually racist, misogynistic and homophobic remarks which for today's readers will be difficult to overlook. Even if he was not an actual murderer, Charrière openly admits to having had sexual relations with a fifteen-year-old, a brief career as a pimp, and carried out a host of thefts, lies and acts of casual violence. Yet he clearly wants the reader to believe that he was essentially a good guy at heart, he is simply a by-product of a society that is at fault and that all criminals can turn themselves into model citizens if they are only given a chance. This is fanciful at best.

"No nation has the right to revenge itself or rush to eliminate people just because they cause society anxiety. They should be healed instead of given such inhuman punishment."

'Papillon' was a runaway success when it was published in 1969 and its easy to see why. If we are willing to but aside the fact that the book is supposedly auto-biographical and treat it as fiction it's a searing indictment of the pointless cruelty of lifelong incarceration and a rollocking boy's own adventure story.
… (mais)
PilgrimJess | 63 outras críticas | Dec 30, 2023 |
The author tells his story of being convicted of a murder he didn‘t commit to serve a life sentence in the prison system in French Guiana. He describes his 8 escapes and punishments as well as friendships and his brief life with Indians. An excellent book.
KarenMonsen | 63 outras críticas | Nov 25, 2023 |
A difficult book to read and I would have abandoned it had it not been the choice for the book club. I know that some people enjoyed it and some have even found it inspirational - I found it boring and tedious. And I dont care if Steve Mcqueen was in the movie, that didnt make me hate it any less.[return][return]In principal, it should be a great book: Man imprisoned for a crime he didnt commit, escapes from one penal colony, has a great time on an island pretending to be something he's not, gets captured again, incarcerated again, years of solitary confinment, the rations and abuse that prisoners get, to be let go as an old man, long after his original sentence has finised. [return] [return]Oh but such tedious writing! The boredom! Page after page of this drivel! Again I dont know whether this is down to the original writer or the translator (quite a few of the books I've had trouble finishing have been written in another language first).… (mais)
nordie | 63 outras críticas | Oct 14, 2023 |



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