Book Reviews

So many books (you know the rest)

Papillon
by Henri Charriere
Published in 1970 (I finished it on July 11, 2012)

This is the quintessential escape novel. Here’s a guy that just would not, could not stay locked up. And his various methods to flee or go on a “cavale,” are pretty amazing. He suffers greatly in underground dungeons—one which evens floods up to chest level twice a day as the tide comes in. He nearly starves to death many times, in jail and on the open sea. Everything is simply unbelievable—and possibly for a good reason. Reports differ, but the consensus suggests that anywhere from 10 to 80% is fabricated or taken from the stories of other prisoners. That said, it certainly doesn’t detract from the entertainment value of the book—or the fact that it promotes courage, perseverance, and redemption. Certainly, the escape from Devil’s Island was correct, and he did wind up living in Venezuela after obtaining his freedom. Now, the pig that navigated the quicksand? That one might be a far fetch. Overall, I’m inclined to think it’s about 80% true, and I’m not interested in knowing what the 20% is.

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