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Henri Charrière, called "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.
Charrière's astonishing autobiography, Papillon, was 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.
As if I didn’t have enough real problems.... Bourset told me he was sure he was being watched. We’d been waiting fifteen days for the last piece—the one five feet long. Narric and Quenier insisted there was nothing wrong, but Bourset was still afraid to make it. If it hadn’t needed five joints that had to fit exactly, Matthieu could have made it in the garden. But it was into this plank that the five ribs of the raft had to be fitted. Narric and Quenier were repairing the chapel, so they were
nine. At nineteen he had killed a guy just before he was due to get out of the reformatory, on the eve of joining up with the Navy. He was out of his mind: he was planning to get to Venezuela and work in a gold mine where he planned to blow off his leg in order to get a big compensation. The leg was already stiff from some injections he had cadged at Saint-Martin-de-Ré. This morning there was a minor sensation. At roll call they called up Arnaud, Hautin and my friend Matthieu Carbonieri’s
not approve of my plan for crossing Guajira. Antonio motioned that I should get up on the horse and that I should hang my shoes over my shoulder to let my bleeding feet dry out. The rider got back on his horse and I climbed on behind. I had no idea what was going on. We galloped all that day and the following night. From time to time we stopped; he’d pass me a bottle of anisette and I’d take a swallow. When the sun rose, he stopped. He gave me a piece of cheese as hard as a rock, two biscuits,
everyone took turns looking at the pink scar where his ulcer had been. They were amazed that the familiar sore had healed. And only Zorrillo and I knew how it had happened. Zorrillo explained that the chief of the visiting tribe was actually Zato’s father. His name was Justo, meaning “The Just.” He was the one who administered justice to all the tribes in Guajira. When there was trouble with the Iapus (another Indian race altogether), they met to discuss whether they would go to war or settle
pulled until he was free; then yanked him up and over. Shots rang out from the other sentry posts. Unnerved by the noise, we jumped from the wrong part of the wall; here the street was twenty-five feet below, whereas farther along to the right there was a street only fifteen feet below. As a result, Clousiot broke his right leg again. I couldn’t get up either. I had broken the arches of both feet. The Colombian dislocated his knee. The rifle shots brought out the guard on the street side. We