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Papillon (Harper Perennial Modern Classics) [Paperback]

Henri Charrière , Patrick O'Brian
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (138 customer reviews)
RRP: £9.99
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Book Description

3 May 2005 Harper Perennial Modern Classics

An immediate sensation upon its publication in 1969, Papillon is a vivid memoir of brutal penal colonies, daring prison breaks and heroic adventure on shark-infested seas.

Condemned for a murder he did not commit, Henri Charriere, nicknamed Papillon, was sent to the penal colony of French Guiana. Forty-two days after his arrival he made his first break for freedom, travelling a thousand gruelling miles in an open boat. He was recaptured and put into solitary confinement but his spirit remained untamed: over thirteen years he made nine incredible escapes, including from the notorious penal colony on Devil’s Island.

This edition of Papillon, one of the greatest adventure stories ever told, includes an exclusive new essay by Howard Marks.


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Papillon (Harper Perennial Modern Classics) + Banco: The Further Adventures of Papillon + Papillon [DVD] [1973] [1974]
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Product details

  • Paperback: 688 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; New Ed edition (3 May 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007179960
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007179961
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (138 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 4,204 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

From the Back Cover

Condemned for a murder he had not committed, Henri Charriere (nicknamed 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, he suffered a solitary confinement and was sent eventually to Devil's Island, a hell-hole of disease and brutality. No one had ever escaped from this notorious prison – no one until Papillon took to the shark infested sea supported only by a makeshift coconut-sack raft. In thirteen years he made nine daring escapes, living through many fantastic adventures while on the run – including a sojourn with South American Indians whose women Papillon found welcomely free of European restraints…

'Papillon' is filled with tension, adventure and high excitement. It is also one of the most vivid stories of human endurance ever written.

Henri Charriere died in 1973 at the age of 66.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

In 1931, 25-year-old Henri Charriere was found guilty of a murder he had not committed and transported to a penal colony in French Guiana. His numerous daring escapes and subsequent adventures are recounted in ‘Papillon’ (1969) and ‘Banco: The Further Adventures of Papillon’ (1973). He died in 1973 at the age of 66.


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IT WAS A KNOCKOUT BLOW-a punch so overwhelming that I didn't get back on my feet for fourteen years. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You Want To Put It Down! 14 July 2005
By Stupot
Format:Paperback
This is simply one of my favourite books and a must read for anyone with a sense of adventure. The authors descriptions of the conditions he has to endure during both imprisonment and escape are vivid and this provides the book with a real edge. I often wondered what hell he would have to endure next or which of his colleagues would be left for dead or captured. I read it whilst on holiday and couldn't put it down...worth putting your hand in your pocket for!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Greatest Book Ever 24 July 2014
Format:Paperback
I'm quite sure I've read over a thousand books during the last 40 odd years. I've no doubt this is the best book I've ever read in my life. I have now read it three times, once at the age of 12, again at the age of 30, and most recently at the age of 43. Each time the book was fantastic and enthralling. Papillon is wrongly charged with the murder of a pimp, gets convicted, sentenced to life imprisonment, and shipped out to the Hell hole of Devil's Island in French Guiana. Papillon befriends several fellow cons, including a master fraudster named Degas, and makes numerous thrilling escape attempts through the inhospitable swamps and jungles. He has a nerve-shredding encounter with a group of lepers, who take a liking to him, and assist him in one of his escapes. He finds a tropical island paradise where he befriends a tribe's leader, and becomes involved with one of the local women. What is most gripping, is his depiction of his hatred for the men responsible for his imprisonment. He fantasises about what he will do to his prosecutor if he ever finds him. He paces his small cell back and forth, over and over again, countless times, his sheer frustration and desperation about the unfairness of what has happened to him, leaps out at you from each page, you feel that you are sat there right next to him on his bed, it is really that involving. This book has been about for close to 50 years now and it is truly a masterpiece. A film based on the book was made in the 1970's with Steve McQueen and Dustin Hoffman, which was a decent stab at translating the book onto the big screen, but simply nowhere near as good as the novel. I can't recommend this book highly enough, it is constantly gripping and moving, and from the first to last page, you find yourself rooting for Papillon and hoping that his life will turn out okay.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
I read this book on a 16 hour plane flight and only glanced up to accept my dinner. I really felt involved in the characters of the book, the author makes you feel happy and sad, sympathy or loathing for the various characters and their situations. It has been suggested that this is a made up tale, that none of it occured. You make up your own mind. I reply that if it is true it is an almost unbelievable story of survival in the most atrocious conditions of mental and physical torture, where men are taken to their emotional extemes. If it is not true, the writing is incredible, the reader will feel they are in the situations themselves. The relationships between the men are deeply and fully explored and I was left at times close to tears. The character Papillon is not a pleasant man, he doesnt hide the fact. However you cannot help but cheer the man on in his attempts to escape what appears to be one of the cruellest and inhumane prison systems. The only criticism I have is the blaise way he passes over his years (years!) spent is solitary confinement. However this is a long book and could not afford to be any longer. If you think your life is bad, read this! Also recommended - Touching the Void - Joe Simpson Another tale of outstanding survival against all the odds.
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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Papillon is the most moving true account of a time in a life I have had the luck to read. I have read all the reviews both here and on the US site. Though it is the final word on perseverance, this is not the beauty of this book. No, it is not the narration, nor even the man himself or the breadth and depth of his adventures (though awesome). For me, it is the clear message that friendship is the greatest gift a person can have and give. It is friendship that allowed him to escape, to realize his dreams, to write his story. Where would he be without the kind Priest, how would he have planned the escape without Sierra, and what can you feel but shame (as did Papillon!) after the generosity of the lepers - how wholesome they seemed in their nature if not in their bodies. The examples are endless ( unlike this review - luckily! ) but the lesson is singular and clear.
This book is inspirational - no doubt - it inspires self-esteem, to fortify yourself against those that would climb your walls to pull you down, but, above all, it inspires me to be human to others. The inhumanity suffered by Papillon and others like him were at the hands of those who could not feel for others as Papi and his friends felt for others (God this sounds like I'm preaching! ).
I read that one reviewer tattooed a butterfly on his chest in honour of Henri Charriere, for me, his story is tattooed on my mind. I think of his story and his friends as often as I do my own. The only other equally moving account of the power of friendship is "Of Mice and Men" by John Steinbeck.
My friends, those who have read the book and those thinking about it - all the best!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely spell binding
No words can describe how you feel, having read this book, it sure as hell makes you relate to life in a different, and more honest way than before. Read more
Published 2 days ago by kurt pedersen
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Good
Published 7 days ago by Mrs B.
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book
One of the best adventures and true stories! Beautifully written and full of encouragement, especially for anyone who is having a tough moment. Highly recommend!
Published 10 days ago by Davina Tse
5.0 out of 5 stars A harrowing, remarkable and thoroughly gripping story1
With the turning of each page my compassion for Papillion grew and grew. A harrowing, remarkable and thoroughly gripping story - I wholeheartedly recommend it!
Published 13 days ago by Sjl.chaventre
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Gripping.
Published 19 days ago by Peter G Taylor
5.0 out of 5 stars Papillon for women too!
I couldn't put it down. I read all the previous reviews which seemed to say it was a man's book and had never wanted to watch the film so was unsure what I was letting myself in... Read more
Published 21 days ago by Penny the story reader
4.0 out of 5 stars Insight into French penal system and self-preservation
Papillon is such a likable person in this amazing true-life experience of the French penal system, Papi shows so much courage in the face of those trying to keep him down, and you... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Olivia Sharman
5.0 out of 5 stars My first read was the best
For decades I thought my fascination with this book was because it was the first "grown-up" book I read at the age of 12. Read more
Published 1 month ago by G. Halldórsson
5.0 out of 5 stars Its a one of story thats true to life and ...
Its a one of story thats true to life and you would never think one man could go through that experience, its a life changer for me,
Published 1 month ago by Terry Atkinson
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
great evergreen
Published 1 month ago by Cyril Marek
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