Books: Travels with Papi

PAPILLON by Henri Charrière. 434 pages. William Morrow. $8.95.

Even his underworld name is perfect: Papillon—because he has a butterfly tattooed on his chest.

His real-life scenario begins in Paris, on Montmartre in 1930. At 23, he is a suave breaker of hearts and a slick cracker of safes. Suddenly, he is framed for a murder he did not commit and sentenced to prison for life—or "perpetuity" as the French, knowing their own penal system, more realistically put it. Shuffled off to French Guiana, he tries to break out nine times. On the first escape,...

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