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The Diving Bell and the Butterfly: A Memoir…

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly: A Memoir of Life in Death

by Jean-Dominique Bauby

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Showing 1-5 of 118 (next | show all)
Review originally posted at Dangerously Cold Tea

This book is truly a miracle. The man, trapped in his own body, managed to write this using his left eye only - well, his eye and someone patient enough to transcribe the story, which took several months to do. The fact that Bauby did not fall into a dark depression and lose the will to live is by itself a powerful testament to his will.

As for the book itself, the prose is lyrical at moments, the mood differing between the dream-like state that exists in his mind and something set heavily in the maudlin reality, complete with macabre turns of phrases on his condition. You can't blame Bauby for being depressed at times, but this is not a depressing novel overall. It is a testament to living despite all odds, powerful and lifting, and his story is a lesson for all of us who take life for granted.

There is a movie version of this starring Mathieu Almaric that looks very well-made. I hope it did the source material justice. ( )
  SarahHayes | Feb 20, 2017 |
The book is very moving on one level yet left me strangely unmoved emotionally. I have tremendous sympathy for the author's circumstances that left his spirit and mind trapped in his "diving bell", and his efforts in the painstaking dictation of his story.

Perhaps it was his intent to not emotionalize the story. Maybe he didn't want to write a maudlin story. If so, in my opinion he succeeded.

On a positive note the book is a testament to the human spirit and the rich life of the mind and imagination that can't be squashed regardless of the state of one's body. It's a rare glimpse into the rich inner life of a person often called a "vegetable". It should be required reading for anyone in the health care field. ( )
  janb37 | Feb 13, 2017 |
A great reading experience. While reading it I felt as though the author and I are one - I felt physically paralyzed the whole time, alongside joy, sadness and fear.

This book is a worthy read. ( )
  peterandgelo | Nov 22, 2016 |
First of all, Its amazing that this book was written by blinking a left eye. Its interesting to have a perspective on locked-in syndrome which must be the worse imaginable thing to have a sound mind but be unable to do anything for yourself.
Other than that, I didn't really find it that interesting. He has a few chapters which talk about him being in the hospital which provides great insight but a lot of the book is from his past.
I have read other books about people with locked -in syndrome who also blinked to make a book and this one just didn't really do it for me. I may watch the film but this book doesn't make me want to rush out and get it. ( )
  Nataliec7 | Oct 31, 2016 |
To dictate a book entirely by blinking one eye is an astonishing feat in itself. To dictate one this good is just shy of a miracle. Our world owes a significant debt of gratitude to Claude Mendibil for helping Mr Bauby set his words free. ( )
  dele2451 | Sep 30, 2016 |
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For my children, Théophile and Céleste . . .

And my deepest gratitude to Claude Mendibil,
whose all-important contribution to these
pages will become clear as my story unfolds.
Pour Théophile et Céleste en leur souhaitant beaucoup de papillons.

Toute ma gratitude va à Claude Mendibil dont on comprendra en lisant ces pages le rôle primordial qu'elle a joué dans leur écriture.
First words
Through the frayed curtain at my window, a wan glow announces the break of day.
Derrière le rideau de toile mitée une clarté laiteuse annonce l'approche du petit matin.
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Information from the French Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.

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Book description
Coma. Een briljante geest raakt gevangen in een totaal verlamd lichaam. Alleen al het denken aan een dergelijke situatie is benauwend. Leven in een onbeweeglijk duikerpak, zonder hoop op herstel...
Het overkomt Jean-Dominique Bauby, succesvol journalist en hoofdredacteur van het blad E//e. Op 8 december 1995, 43 jaar oud, raakt hij na een beroerte in een diep coma.
Eind januari 1996 komt hij weer bij bewustzijn. Al zijn motorische functies zijn gestoord; hij kan niet meer bewegen, eten, spreken en zelfs ademhalen is zonder hulp niet mogelijk. De medische wereld heeft er een uitdrukking voor: het 'locked-tn syndrom' ofwel 'opgesloten in jezelf. ,~
Bauby heeft nog 'geluk1: hij is in staat zijn linkerooglid te bewegen. En zijn gedachten zijn glashelder...
Met behulp van dat ooglid en een speciaal alfabet weet Bauby zijn gedachten (vlinders noemt hij ze zelf) te dicteren, letter voor letter. Woorden rijgen zich aaneen tot zinnen, tot hoofdstukken en uiteindelijk tot een boek. Een verbluffend boek, benauwend maar ook optimistisch, humoristisch en spiritueel.
Voor Jean-Dominique Bauby was elk woord kostbaar. Zijn verhaal is als een schatkist, maar het is ook zijn testament. Hij stierf een paar dagen na het verschijnen van zijn boek, in maart 1997, met de wetenschap dat toonaangevende critici Le scaphandre et Ie papilion als een meesterwerk beschouwden.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0375701214, Paperback)

We've all got our idiosyncrasies when it comes to writing--a special chair we have to sit in, a certain kind of yellow paper we absolutely must use. To create this tremendously affecting memoir, Jean-Dominique Bauby used the only tool available to him--his left eye--with which he blinked out its short chapters, letter by letter. Two years ago, Bauby, then the 43-year-old editor-in-chief of Elle France, suffered a rare stroke to the brain stem; only his left eye and brain escaped damage. Rather than accept his "locked in" situation as a kind of death, Bauby ignited a fire of the imagination under himself and lived his last days--he died two days after the French publication of this slim volume--spiritually unfettered. In these pages Bauby journeys to exotic places he has and has not been, serving himself delectable gourmet meals along the way (surprise: everything's ripe and nothing burns). In the simplest of terms he describes how it feels to see reflected in a window "the head of a man who seemed to have emerged from a vat of formaldehyde."

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:16 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

The author, former editor of French Elle magazine, describes the rare stroke to the brain stem that left his mind intact in a nearly totally paralyzed body.

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