Sunday, December 02, 2007

Papillon- Book Review



I read some books again and again. Not immediately though. Re-reading is done once every few years. I am always surprised to find some new insight even when I am reading it for the 4th or 5th time. Must be because as you age you mature like wine and things that you would skip with out a thought five or ten years back would hold you by neck and shake you now. Or it could be that I am a slow learner.

So when I read Papillon , ( someone who claims to have known French told me that it is pronounced with both LL s and N silent) may be 5th or 6th time after I bought the book some time after the movie with the same name was released late 70s, the extra-ordinary character of Papillon gets revealed more and more. The strong will to survive at any cost and break free from the inhuman French penal system, the goodness of the person not to succumb to the wild pleasures and passions of convicts in prisons, always standing for his friends and helping them even in life threatening situations, perseverance, endurance and never never even for a moment neglecting his goal- the Break. The character was portrayed brilliantly in the film by Stev Mcqeen as Papillion and Dustin Hoffman as his friend Dega.

This book hits the reader real hard. Right from the opening line ""It was a knock out blow— a punch so overwhelming that I didn't get back on my feet for fourteen years...".Papillon is a real life account of the author Henri Charriere ( in the picture here) who was wrongly sentenced for a crime he didn't commit, when he was 25. The book is an account of the years he has spent in French Guiana and the attempts to escape. In one attempt he sails a small boat along with his two friends more than a 1000 miles and reaches Trinidad and Columbia. As fate would have it, he is handed back to French authorities who puts him back in French Guiana, this time in a solitary confinement . His story describes the nine escape attempts he made from jail, finally securing his freedom in Venezuela. The suffering and anguish that he endures during his 13 years in captivity leaves the reader breathless and in awe of the courage this man possessed. You finish reading Papillon and you put the book down feeling that anything is possible.

2 comments:

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S-n-E-h-A-l = SEA = WIDE = OPEN = DEEP said...

I just recently read Papillon. I agree with you that its one of the most motivational or self-help book for anyone. After reading this book I believe that if one has courage, miracles happen... :)