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The Diving Bell and the Butterfly: A Memoir of Life in Death Paperback – June 23, 1998
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From Library Journal
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Audio Cassette edition.
Top Customer Reviews
The title of the book refers to the metaphors he uses to describe his situation. The physical paralysis leaves him feeling as if he was trapped within a diving bell, as if there is constant pressure pinning his body into immobility. However, at the same time, his mind remains as free as a butterfly and it's flights are as random. In fact, he calls the chapters of this book his "bedridden travel notes" and, indeed, they eloquently relate his journey through memory.
Although Bauby's situation is obviously unique, this book has universal resonance because his condition is itself an apt metaphor for the human condition. It is the essence of Man's dilemma that our infinitely perfectible minds are trapped within such weak containers of flesh and blood. For most of us, at most times, this frustrating dichotomy, between that which makes us godlike and that which makes us mortal, lurks in the background; but the author has it thrust rudely into the foreground, where it necessarily dominates his existence.Read more ›
Bauby was the father of two young children and the editor-in-chief of a major magazine. He had traveled extensively and was blessed with many friends. After the stroke, his active and exciting life was no more. As a quadriplegic, Bauby had to be bathed, fed by a gastric tube, and moved by nurses and attendants. He could not speak at all. What was there left to live for?
It turns out that Bauby's mind provided him with the spiritual and emotional fuel to keep him from falling into despair. He did not become bitter or cantankerous, and he never lost his humor, imagination, or the wonderful memories that he cherished. Finally, he began to compose this book in his head, and through a system in which blinks of an eye indicated letters of the alphabet, he "dictated" this book to his secretary.
"The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" is witty, lyrical, and poignant. Bauby notes that since he could no longer eat in the normal way, he had to dine in his head, imagining himself enjoying beef bourguignon, apricot pie, or even a simple soft-boiled egg. Since he could not speak to his ninety-three year old father, Jean-Dominique's father called him on the phone and spoke to him. When he was finally able to sit in a wheelchair, Bauby was taken to the sea where he admired the colorful umbrellas, the beautiful seascape, and the lovely sailboats. He was destined to live the remainder of his life one step removed from reality, but, in his mind, this was better than not living life at all. Jean-Dominique Bauby lived to see his book published before he died in 1997. "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" is an inspiring testament to the indomitable spirit of a very remarkable man.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I love, love, LOVE this book and the subsequent filmdirected by Julian Schnabel. I first heard about the book on Diane Rehm's show when she interviewed the translator from the... Read morePublished 2 months ago by P. Power
Devastating and transcendent. This short chronicle of a life irrevocably changed by a stroke is worth every heartbreaking moment.Published 2 months ago by Barbara Searles
This book is more so a collection of short stories of memories from the former editor of a hugely popular French magazine, Jean-Dominque Bauby. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
A Review of: The Diving Bell and The Butterfly, by Jean-Dominique Bauby
Jean-Domique Bauby suffered a stroke which left him paralyzed with locked-in syndrome at the age of 43. Read more