Monday, February 16, 2009

Chin up!

Read 'Papillon' middle of last year, though did not get around to penning it down.

It details the story of Henri Charriere, a French citizen who was wrongfully convicted of murder in the 14 years he spent at a 'bagne' (French prison colony) in French Guinea. In it he talks about the numerous attempts that he made to attain freedom, and the trials and tribulations he faced. Papillon (French word for butterfly) is Henri's nickname, derived from the butterfly tattoo he had on his chest.

From the outset of his imprisonment, he set tried to escape, convinced as he was of his innocence. During the 14 years narration he talks about various different stages of captivity. He talks of his escapes vividly, allowing us to imagine the entire setting. He talks of his emotions after seeing a gun pointed at him, after a failed attempt; as well as his attempts to keep him up and cheerful during long periods of solitary confinement awarded for his numerous antics at escape. During the period he made a lot of friends, some who stuck with him through thick and thin

The book puts forth a face of indomitable courage and belief that the future will hold a better light, provided people act to seek a solution. "Chin up" is the term that they used, and it literally means, 'Chin up' i.e. 'Don't be dejected, things will pick up'

PS: It is not a true autobiography. It is now considered as a narrative novel, combining the experiences of Charriere and his fellow inmates. However, this revelation will still find it difficult to reduce any excitement of reading the book. A must read for everyone.