Papillon – Impossible Is Nothing !


I read the Marathi version of “Papillon” last month. A Small review on this amazing true story!


Henry Sharrière, a thief, was convicted of the murder of a pimp although there was no direct evidence against him other than the doubtful  testimony of a prosecution ‘witness’. He was sentenced to lifetime imprisonment in French Guyana in November 1933 but escaped in September 1934 and made his way to Colombia. Re-arrested, he was returned to Cayenne in 1935, but made a final escape in 1944 and became a Venezuelan citizen. After building up his fortune, only to have it ruined by an earthquake, he wrote a book about his life and adventures. This was made into the movie Papillon, starring Steve McQueen, in 1973, but during the making of the film Charrière discovered he was suffering from throat cancer. He died on July 29 1973 and is buried in Lanas (France), alongside the grave of his prison friend Louise.


Its a chilling yet inspiring true story of Henry Charriere’s years in French Guiana during 1930’s and his 9 escape attempts, wherein he finally succeeds!
This book is one of best sellers of its time.. And I bet you will agree with this if you read this book.


During his attempt to escape, He encountered with the Red-Indians opened a new world to him, which though backward, was full of love and humanity. There he got Love from two women who were sisters. Though  this attempt led to re-arrest, thus bringing him back to Guiana, even confinement into dark cell jail for 2 long years! In these 2 years he speaks only 3 sentences with the warden. He also gets helped by his friends in the jail, who help him survive the brutality by slipping in coconuts to him.

His final attempt using a bag of coconuts and help from the waves and along with a friend, who unfortunately dies in the swamp, at this point Henry can do little but to watch him vanish in the swamps! His encounter with an escaped Chinese and his little pig is like shot in the arm!

Finally, at Venezuela serving some time in prison….he gets his deserved Freedom! All the 14 years of his life just wasted away. At time in the book, Henry ponders on what keeps him moving…but he in one tough soul.

This book strengthen my belief that ’’Impossible is nothing’’ . I hope you enjoy it too!


68 thoughts on “Papillon – Impossible Is Nothing !

  1. This is gr8 book. I also read sequel to “Papillon” … “BANCO” by Henri Charriere. Banco is after story of “Papillon”.It is the true tale of what happened to hero after he had finally managed to escape from the clutches of the brutal French penal system. I read both , gr8 adventure true stories.


  2. अमित,
    पुस्तक आणि विषय छान आहेतच परंतु पुस्तक परिचय सुद्धा तू सुंदर पद्धतिने दिला आहेस, त्यामुळे आता ‘वाचावेच’असं वाटू लागलय ![तुझ्याकडून उपलब्ध झाल्यास आनंदच होईल, अर्थात शक्य असेल तर.]तुझा परिचय वाचताना एका वाक्यापाशी मी थोडा थांबलो,”All the 14 years of his life just wasted away”, १४ वर्ष खरंच वाया गेली ? की त्यामुळे लेखकाला ‘पॅपिलॉन’लिहिता आले व ते प्रसिद्धी झोतात आले ? कारण बरयाच मोठ्या आयुंष्यांनी तुरुंगाच्या भिंतींआड राहून वळण घेतले आहे.Trachtenberg या व्यक्तीने हिट्लरच्या छळ्छावणी तुरंगात असताना मनन करीत गणितीय पद्धतींचा विकास केला, [] , टिळकांनी मंडालेच्या तुरंगात गीतारहस्य लिहिले, बंगालच्या रेल्वेलुटीतील एक क्रांतीकारी ‘अरविंद घोष’तुरंगात अंतर्मुख झाले व आतला शोध घेत-घेता ‘योगी अरविंद’म्हणुन समाजापुधे आले …यातून हेच दिसतय की ‘समर्थ आयुष्य’तुरुंगात राहूनही ‘मोठं’जगणं जगत असतात आणि काहिजनांना मात्र चांगल्या कंपनीतील चांगली नोकरीसुधा ‘तुंरंग’वाटते ..!! 🙂 …बाकी काही म्हण पुस्तक वाचायला मजा येइल !!!

  3. i read marathi version of PAPPILON.. really it was fantastic…when i was reading PAPPILON i forgets everything,,,after starting i finishehd it within a week,,because i m a medical student therefor i dont had more time to read.

  4. Great story, but many are certain it isn’t a true tale like it was once claimed. Most likely they are experiences of several different inmates. I’m sad there aren’t any pictures of the Devil’s Island in the net, I’d like to see the little cliff where the final escape attempt was allegedly made.

  5. Really its a amazing novel and thanks to write who translated such a master piece in marathi i.e. to Ravinder Gusar. Its really inspiring stuff and i would like to read the second part i.e. “Papillon” … “BANCO” by Henri Charriere in marathi. If anybody knows that its avaliable in marathi please let me know.

  6. is great book….. And yes, it inspires us to believe “impossible in nothing !!”…… I’ve read both kannada(In kannada it is translated by one of the finest writer Late Shri KP Poornachandra Tejaswi) and english virsions….. I liked the chapter where they name the particular waves in the sequence as lusette 🙂

  7. Oh! on reading the book i became the die hard fan of pupy! i tried to get his pic but couldn’t find one, if u find plz. plz. plz. mail me.
    His life in venezuella after freedom was also completely adventurous.if u want to know more about him plz. read the book named “”BANKO”” by henry sharier & i am sure u wil enjoy it a lot.

  8. this is really a nice book. I read it when I was in school. can anyone tell me where i can buy this book (Marathi version) in Mumbai?

  9. cuando era chico , mi padre me lo regalo y es la mejor obra que he leido, despues pude conseguir la segunda parte BANCO igual de apasionante, saben creo , por mas que un hombre tenga problemas siempre estan los sueños y la esperanza , es asi como henrry pudo ser libre, con este comentario quiero hacer un homenaje y un gracias a mi padre guiillermo por enseñarme el mundo de la lectura que espero dejar a mi hijo, a todos les recomiendo, las dos obras , PAPILLON Y BANCO, disfrutenlas

  10. Its a fantastic story.
    for pratiksha, you can get the Marathi translation of Mr. Ravindra Gurjar, everywhere. Its distributed by M/s. Rasik Sahitya Pvt. Ltd. Appa Balwant Chowk, Pune. Email:

  11. Thanks for praise of my Marathi translation of “Papillon”. Have you read my other translations – viz, Godfather, Coma, Second Lady etc. I have translated around 25 bestseller books. You may contact me by e-mail.
    — Ravindra Gurjar

  12. Papillon is really good book. I feel like I was in different world while readig this book. If anyone gets original images/photoes of Henry Sharier please upload it on blog.

  13. i read the tamil version in just two days. is this atrue story? where and how can we confirm?if that is true it is really an astonishing feat by a man.can anybody send me a link?

    • pls dear just now i heared abt tht book will u pls mail me the tamil version

      if u dont hv pls tell me wr i get in net free

      • I would like to purchase the tamil version of papillon. Kindly furnish us the details of books and publisher name to enable me to buy the same

  14. I have read this book when i was in 7th class.I read this book for 5 times.I love this book ever.I am maratha.this is very nice book.i recommand that everyone should read this book.U can get this copy in any “jyoti” book stall.
    u can also find this book in big book stall near garden shalimar road nashik.
    And prashant u can order book from

  15. Amit,

    I read this book in my school life (77-78) it’s really fantistic.
    I read both parts papillon and banco.

    If y r intresting in reading. I will suggest you another books in marathi
    1) Nazi Bhasmasuracha uday asta.
    2) Isreal – history

    these are also very much intresting books.

  16. I have read Your marathi translation of ‘Seventy days’. just wanted more infoirmation if there is a movie based on that true story.

  17. Shri Ravindra Gurjarji,

    I hope you will remember me. I am C N S Murthy’s Son in Law. Along with “In high places”, “Papillon” , 70 days , i appriciate “Kontiki” also.



  18. My E-mail adddress id
    I have started a “Vachak Pariwar” movement to extend reading culture.
    Interested readers can contact me on following address :
    Ravindra Gurjar Vachak Pariwar
    26/12, Pratiknagar, Yerawada,
    Pune 411006. Tel.No.: (020) 26695168
    — Ravindra Gurjar

  19. i just remember one thing what we call it in marathi is “Zabardast”. I think readers who like reading such kind of books must read “DESERTER” by Vijay Deodhar….Try it,it’s amazing

  20. i was read hentry shariar life history book named butterfly..tat ll change my life…if any one have him photo plz forward me

  21. Mr Amit borkar I mr v s naik want to talk to you on and about PAPPILON but as i dont have any email addreess i am providing you my Mob No.9892257879 it is very important as it aims to be in favour of the readers of Marathi version of Pappilon translated by Ravindra Gurjar. i will be highly obliged

  22. Papillon is really really..very good novel, God has
    given him a tremendous will power to succeed, we are (Marathi) people deeply indebted to Ravindra Gurjar for translation in Marathi. I never read such a good
    book before…! If anybody have photographs of this
    poor fellow (Henry Sharrier) and also Selet, Sant Joseph island, Gojira Red indians or any other related to this please upload them …! Thank u very
    much for this site also.

  23. Dear Papillon Readers…!
    If, anybody wants to see st.Joseph,Royal and devil islands plz…logon to the below URL…

    you will find out a very beautiful nature…
    Those who are fond of to read TRUE stories let us try
    these books also.
    Anna Frank’s diary,
    Mat Eaters of Tsavo written by J.H.Patterson, it, is
    very interesting and romanting true story, when Uganda
    railway was under construction, so, many people’s lost
    their lives by man eater Lion..! The novel has also
    contains photographs at that time..

  24. Hi pappilon readres,

    This is a really great story. I read Kannada version of it translated by one of the best writers of Kannada Sri K P pornachandra tejaswi.

    Oh god!! Such a bad imprisonment system in so called progressed country France!!!

    yes,”Impossoble is nothing”!!!Its really a great feet achieved by Henry charriere..truly inspiring..

    I couldn’t found his photo.please mail me if you have it.
    my id:

  25. Hi Amit,

    I came across your blog post while searching for the marathi translation of Papillon. I wanted to gift the (translated) book to a friend in California, and was wondering if you knew if I could purchase the book online. Please suggest a site if you know. (I have searched Amazon, its not there.)
    Besides, after going through the thread of comments, I have written to Shri Ravindra Gurjar himself asking him about it. I am now waiting for his reply.

    Meanwhile, I would be grateful if you could reply to my request by email as soon as possible.


  26. i have inspired from his book papillon,
    i read all two parts of papillon,
    and i thinks his the best of best book for thirller,brave i prode of the hero of papillone,
    his the real hiro of life,
    thanks for ravindra gurjar b”cause his read a very very good book of papillon,
    all the best for new book of same of papillon and wait read it.

  27. I have read the book PAPILLON and I have read the translated version “PATTAMPOOCHI” (Butterfly) i.e in Tamil of the same book also the translator was, Mr. R.K. Rangarajan,one among the good Tamil writers. Friends! if you want to enjoy n feel the original essence of any story or Bio-Graphy you must read it in your mother tongue and I must say I am blessed to read this book in Tamil. oh! what an astonishing and astounding translation!! I enjoyed the true essence of Papillon. Tanks Mr. Rangarajan thank you very much!. I have read this story when I was young, it was published in a Tamil weekly KUMUDAM during the early seventies for a long time. But as I was too young to read such a great biography I couldn’t got the true picture of it at that age. But now one of my relative who had read this book several times and became the fan of Henri Sharier gave me this Book. Though he was a man of underworld he got all the courage and valor of Heroes and he got all talents to justify him as a HERO.Yes he was a HERO, HERO and HERO!!!. His heroic adventures were typical example for ability of tolerance and constant fight of mankind against injustice.
    The Book “PATTAMPOOCHI” was published By NARMADA PADHIPPAGAM and the address is
    No. 10 NANA Street, PANDI BAZAAR, T. NAGAR, CHENNAI – 600 017 Phones 044-24334397
    cell: 98402 26661 Fax: 044-2433 6312.

    I got the fourth edition of the above book published in the year 2007 and I don’t know weather they have published new edition after that.

    • Thank you very much for your information. I read the binding copy of kumudam collections during early 80’s and i want to buy one book. From your information I got the details and I will buy the book.

    • Thanks for your information.
      I have read this during 70s in kumudam regularly.
      apart from RA KI RA -beautiful translation ,the contribution from Artist “J” is unforgettable.
      Can i get this book in soft copy please.

  28. I want to read the sequel of Pattampoochi i.e. Innoru Pattampoochi by the same author R K Rangarajan. Please help.

  29. Shri Ravindra Gurjar Sir,

    I have read one book in my childhood named as “MALA NISATLCAH PAHIJE” – which is a translation of THE LONG WALK. One of my neighbour gave it to me only for reading. But after that I never found that book anywhere. I am very eager and desperate to buy this book. I can only remind its Front Cover. I think its published by Shriram Book Agency and translated either by you or Vijay Deodhar (not sure).
    Please help me out if you own this book or have any reference about this.

  30. I would like to purchase the binding copy of tamil version ” INNORRU PATTAMPOOCHI” it was pupblished in a Tami Weekly” KUMUDAM” pl furnish the details of owner name and email to enable me by the same

    • follow the link:

  31. Dear readers,

    if you want to see henry’s photograph, type “henri charriere” and google it for images.. Just in case you have not seen him yet.


    • “पँपिलॉन” आणि त्याचा दुसरा भाग “बँको” ही दोन्ही पुस्तकं मी साधारण १९८८ मध्ये अधाशा सारखी वाचली आहेत. इतकी वर्षे झाली तरी त्यांचे मनावरील गारुड अजुन कभी झालेले नाही. वाचनाचा विषय निघाला की, माझ्याशी बोलणा-या प्रत्येकाला मी ही दोनही पुस्तकं वाचायला आवर्जुन सांगतो.
      हेनरी शँरियरच्या फोटोंसाठी श्यामला आणि राजेश या दोघांनी सुचविलेल्या links साठी दोघांचा मी अत्यंत आभारी आहे. या अलौकिक व्यक्तिचे फोटो मी माझ्या मोबाईल मध्ये कायमचे जतन करुन ठेवले आहात.

  32. hats off to Henry sharier..really i was impressed by his autobiography.i lernt to be bold and to work hard..whatever the panic be,we should stand by our desire..this is what he taught to me..i relly thank my dad for buying me this great and deterministic u so much sharier…..

  33. I’ve red this book in kannada which was translated by K.P. Poornachandra Tejasvi one of the greatest writers of kannada along with Pradeep Kengige……which is a thrilling adventure…… one can never expect……..its just wonderful.

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