The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

A Memoir of Life in Death

eBook - 1998
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In December 1995, Jean-Dominique Bauby, the 43-year-old editor of French Elle, suffered a massive stroke that left him permanently paralyzed, a victim of "locked in syndrome." Once known for his gregariousness and wit, Bauby now finds himself imprisoned in an inert body, able to communicate only by blinking his left eye. The miracle is that in doing so he was able to compose this stunningly eloquent memoir.In a voice that is by turns wistful and mischievous, angry and sardonic, Bauby gives us a celebration of the liberating power of consciousness: what it is like to spend a day with his children, to imagine lying in bed beside his wife, to conjure up the flavor of delectable meals even as he is fed through at tube. Most of all, this triumphant book lets us witness an indomitable spirit and share in the pure joy of its own survival.
Publisher: New York : Vintage International, 1998
Edition: First Vintage International edition
Copyright Date: ©1997
ISBN: 9780307454836
Branch Call Number: EBOOK B B323B 2008
Characteristics: 133 pages ; 20 cm
Additional Contributors: OverDrive, Inc


From Library Staff

Translated from French, this is an autobiography of Bauby, a former magazine editor at Elle who had a stroke at the age of 44. When he woke up from his coma, it was realized he could communicate with his left eye by people reciting the alphabet to him and blinking when they were at the correct l... Read More »

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Dec 19, 2017

Lovely writing, great insight.

Oct 11, 2017

Heartbreaking, yet inspiring true story. The author experiences a devastating stroke and its horrifying effects. This man was "buried alive", and yet his spirit and will to live and communicate cannot be vanquished. If you need a book to help you put life's ongoing aggravations into correct perspective, this is it!

A quick read, and well worth it.

Jul 17, 2017

I found "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" interesting, a little confusing at times, moving, and sad. I did not understand the meaning of the title at first, but the author does make the title clear as the reader progresses through the book.

This book is a reminder that despite all the medical technology available to physicians, there are some things that remain out of reach and extremely frustrating to patients and their family members and friends.

I do not know if I would recommend this book to anyone else, it left me with an uneasy feeling, but is it for pity for the family or for my own discomfort for what I have learned about what others endure? I suppose I am not able to answer that question at this time.

May 24, 2017

This is the incredible story of Jean-Dominique Bauby. While at the height of his career as editor-in-chief of Elle magazine in Paris, Bauby suffered a stroke and awoke to a new life as a paralyzed mute. Like other individuals who have "locked-in syndrome", he could feel pain but could not move. The only muscle he could move was his right eyelid.

Using an alphabet where each letter is placed in order according to the frequency of its use in the French language, he dictated this book. As each letter of the alphabet was read, Bauby would blink his eye at the letter to be noted. (This alphabet for interest sake is: ESARINTULOMDPCFBVHGJQZYXKW.)

Bauby has given us an incredible gift by telling his story. At times heartbreaking and at times funny, this story is unforgettable. Here are two excerpts from his book:

"...Reflected in the windowpane I saw the head of a man who seemed to have emerged from a vat of formaldehyde. His mouth was twisted, his nose damaged, his hair tousled, his gaze full of fear. One eye was sewn shut, the other goggled like the doomed eye of Cain. For a moment I stared at that dilated pupil before I realized it was only mine.
Whereupon a strange euphoria came over me. Not only was I exiled, paralyzed, mute, half deaf, deprived of all pleasures and reduced to a jelly-fish existence, but I was also horrible to behold. There comes a time when the heaping-up of calamities brings on uncontrollable nervous laughter -
when, after a final buffet from fate, we decide to treat it all as a joke..."

"Sunday. I dread Sunday, for if I am unlucky enough to have no visitors there will be nothing at all to break the dreary passage of the hours. No physiotherapist, no speech pathologist, no shrink. Sunday is crossing the desert, it only oasis a sponge bath..."

Bauby passed away just two days after this book was published.

Apr 17, 2017

i wish this book as available at KCLS in FRENCH

Feb 18, 2014

I have never seen a book and movie work so well together - stunning ! Beyond superlatives ! Merci beaucoup , Jean Do !

cafegrrl Jun 09, 2011

This book blew me away. Upon finishing it, I started telling everyone I knew that they HAD to read it. Knowing the words I was reading on the page came from Bauby's mind, trapped inside his paralyzed body... and that he had dictated each word by blinking his left eyelid.... wow.

ksoles May 19, 2011

To create this tremendously affecting memoir, Jean-Dominique Bauby used the only tool available to him: his left eye. The 43-year-old editor-in-chief of Elle France suffered a rare stroke to the brain stem but, rather than accept his "locked in" syndrome as a death sentence, Bauby employed his imagination to journey to exotic places, serve himself gourmet meals and compose a poignant, unforgettable novel. Tragically, he died just two days after the release of the French publication but he certainly left a legacy behind.

Algonquin_Lisa Mar 14, 2011

Heart-breaking, but at the same time uplifting. Jean-Dominique Bauby had an amazing will to survive in order to tell his story. Inspirational. It will make you stop and think how little problems we face in everyday life are so little compared to the suffering of others.


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Oct 11, 2017

mom2niamh thinks this title is suitable for between the ages of 16 and 99


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