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

by Jean-Dominique Bauby

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3,4651342,226 (3.96)140
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English (125)  Portuguese (2)  Catalan (2)  French (1)  German (1)  Portuguese (Brazil) (1)  Dutch (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (134)
Showing 1-5 of 125 (next | show all)
It was a quick read, but I enjoyed it. It's extraordinary how he was able to tell the story in the first place, but that he was able to still let his voice come through in his words was really special. I didn't feel it was a chance for him to wallow in self-pity (though god knows no one could blame him if he had) or to martyr himself. It was well balanced between being insightful about living with locked-in syndrome and also giving glimpses of who he had been before his stroke. Terrifying and heartbreaking, but at times funny and touching. ( )
  SadieBabie | Jun 23, 2018 |
A very dense and rich book about a few months of life as a victim of locked-in-syndrom, A real testament to a life of the senses. ( )
  quondame | Jun 13, 2018 |
I had heard of this book before, but not read it or seen the film. The author is struck down which a stroke that paralyses his brain stem and leaves him in a locked in condition. He has limited movement of his head and can blink one eyelid. So, in some senses he is better off than those in a complete locked in state. However, as he says, "In the past it was known as a 'massive stroke', and you simply died." He is stuck in this state, with no likelihood of recovery, and describes it as being an active mind (the butterfly) stuck with a dead weight of a body (the diving bell). It is the paradox of modern medicine, that sometimes you can keep someone alive, but is this state being alive or not? It is certainly not a state of living.
The book is a series of short essays, rather than a story, he revisits his past, the stroke, his life and how different it has become. The first few sections, dealing with how he becomes aware of the extent of his illness and the prognosis are heart breaking. The discussion of his father and how he is unable to leave his flat due to issue of old age and how the son cannot reply to the father's telephone calls is desperately sad, two being unable to communicate properly. The section of his children's visit on father's day brings home the enormity of his loss and their confusion as to how to manage this.
It is not all depressing, though, there are flashes of beautiful writing, there is humour and there is self deprecation. The passge on how he can think up a sparkling reposte, but that it takes 10 minutes to take down tends to blunt the wit shows an active mind at work still, and frustrated by the body's limitations. It is melancholy, without being depressing. He regrets his current state and wishes he was not in it, but does not, to my mind, will himself to die.
I'm left with his image of his mind, memory and imagination taking flight like the butterfly. It is a beautiful image that captures something of the miraculous nature of the human spirit. I find myself hoping that this butterfly took flight and remains free. ( )
  Helenliz | Jun 9, 2018 |
former editor of Elle magazine after a stroke that left only his left eye moving. what can you say about a book that was written one letter at a time with the eye twitch of the author. says a lot about the mistakes we make in human interactions and how much we really care. pieces of this are very insightful. It's a piece of art to be appreciated, almost defies review. ( )
  margaretfield | May 29, 2018 |
Devastating and transcendent. This short chronicle of a life irrevocably changed by a stroke is worth every heartbreaking moment. ( )
  TheBibliophage | Mar 20, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 125 (next | show all)
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Dedication
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.
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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.

» see all 7 descriptions

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