Diving Bell and the Butterfly

Diving Bell and the Butterfly

4.3 86
by Jean-Dominique Bauby
     
 

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ISBN-10: 0307389251

ISBN-13: 2900307389250

Pub. Date: 11/20/2007

Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group

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

Overview

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
2900307389250
Publisher:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
11/20/2007
Series:
Vintage International Series
Edition description:
Media Tie
Pages:
144

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The Diving Bell and the Butterfly 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 86 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I could really relate to him, I had a brain stem stroke 6 years ago and went through the LOCK IN state. I think anyone could benifit from reading this book. You never know!
BostonAustin More than 1 year ago
Jean-Dominique Bauby was a lively editor for Elle magazine in 1995 when he suffered a massive stroke that left him in a coma for twenty days. When he finally emerged from his coma, he found out he had fallen victim to ¿locked-in syndrome¿. His body was almost fully paralyzed, except for some slight head and eye movements, while his mind continued to function. With the use of only one of his eyes, he blinked to a translator who recorded letters to make words, sentences, and eventually this whole memoir. It took the pair nearly ten months to write at four hours a day. Although Bauby¿s condition was grim, his spirits were high and he never lost his wonderful humor and fascinating imagination. This book takes us through Bauby¿s experience of being a quadriplegic and his euphoric journey through a lifetime of memories. The anecdotes of his life serve to show how thankful Bauby was that he was still alive after such a horrific event and how not being able to move was not going to stop him from creating something great and sharing the best moments of his life. Bauby¿s style is unique, especially for someone in his situation. His witty sense of humor and use of irony add to the lighthearted tone, even though there is an underlying feeling on self-pity and regret. Although Bauby is confined to his body like a ¿diving bell¿, his mind is still free to fly like a ¿butterfly¿. This memoir speaks to the fact that the strength of the human spirit is undeniable and life is worth living.
Zeisinator More than 1 year ago
After living a normal life with a successful career and all the freedoms of motion, paralysis is an extremely devastating blow to anyone. Jean Dominique Bauby experienced a complete loss of his lifestyle after a stroke that left him with only the physical ability of blinking. Despite his bodily degradation, he was able to patiently author a memoir that reveals the thoughts of someone deeply isolated from the world, only connected through a communication system based on blinking. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly is a true story that never slows down for a moment. Since his communication was very limited, he does not focus on a single aspect of his life, but jumps around from scene to scene. While this style would seem choppy in most cases, Bauby's endless list of anecdotes flows together smoothly. The memoir does not leave out imagery and symbolism, but rather it uses these tools to make a string of stories fit together. With such a unique story, Bauby faces the huge task of making his situation understandable to readers. With no ability to physically do anything worthwhile, the only things he has left are memory and imagination; however, he is able to recall memories he can no longer experience with as much detail as if had just experienced them again. In one chapter, he recalls the time he helped shave his unable father and then uses this image to describe himself. His ability to explain unusual circumstances in a way that anyone can understand makes his memoir all the more interesting. One of the most obvious, yet important, symbols is the diving bell. Bauby uses the image of the diving bell to present the ideas of isolation and separation. As he is very limited in his communication, this symbol fits well; however, he also refers to "the tiny opening of my diving bell", which is his blinking communication system and only link to the world. The imagery of the diving bell gives a better perspective of his feelings of isolation. One of the most captivating parts of the memoir is that it makes the reader pity Bauby, yet Bauby himself does not spend his time pettily seeking pity. While he is often disappointed from recalling his past abilities, he tends toward a more hopeful spirit. When his kids come to visit him for a day at the beach, he finds joy in their lives, as if he is living through them. He misses the physical part of being their father, but he still realizes that he is their father and cares for them dearly. When he describes his thoughts at the beginning of his sufferings, he is almost in denial of his disability. Over time, however, he accepts his fate and tries to adjust to the less active life. He makes up for his physical inability by writing this memoir, reflecting on memories-a huge part of the memoir-and imagining things. Ultimately, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly is not the most cheerful story, but it presents Bauby's life with a positive aura and manipulates emotions. It is a very unique opportunity to look into circumstances that are indescribable except for the person who has experienced them.
AlissaH More than 1 year ago
As one who values a unique perspective, this memoir is the epitome of beauty and perfection. With enchanting language, painstakingly constructed, Bauby's writing transcends my capabilities of description. Written literally by blinking, this short story tells of his experience with Locked-In Syndrome, an unfortunate condition where your entire body is paralyzed while your mind is perfectly in tact. Straightforward and honest, without becoming too depressing or overly optimistic, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly is a literary jewel that will be the treasure of your library.
DMR1 More than 1 year ago
An incredible story of a man held captive in his own body after a severe stroke, which left him with only one eye able to blink and communicate this whole book. An amazing journey into the spirit and vitality of the mind.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I can’t imagine how this guy was able to communicate so well as to write this book. Wow! What happened to him was terrible but shows how humans can cope and make something from nothing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I found The Diving Bell and the Butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby to be quite an enjoyable read. Because of the subject matter, Bauby is paralyzed by a massive stroke that leaves him unable to move his body or speak, Bauby could have easily made the memoir extremely grave. However, he manages to keep the tone relatively light while still paying respect to the severity of the condition. He does so by incorporating self-deprecation and frivolous thoughts. Each sentence, page, and chapter included vivid imagery and carefully chosen words. This is even more impressive given the way he was forced to dictate the book (An aid went through a modified version of the French alphabet letter by letter until Bauby blinked, indicating that she had landed on the right one). Bauby’s musings, which are split into several short paragraphs, are very thought provoking. The reader is given insight into the deep thoughts of the narrator. Beginning with the title itself, many deep themes are expressed. That being said, the plotline is pretty anticlimactic, so the 144 pages can best be enjoyed in a single sitting. I would highly recommend The Diving Bell and the Butterfly to readers who appreciate the complexity of the human mind.
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            There are people in this world who are extremely blessed, and they appreciate none of it. How would it feel to not be able to move anything but an eyelid? The only one who can share this experience is Jean-Dominique Bauby.  He was paralyzed from the neck down, and in this story, he explains how much it affected him.He wrote this story, The Diving Bell and The Butterfly, with the help of many others. In every page, there is a lesson.  Yet, in the end of the book, you learn the most important lesson. Don't take things for granted. One day, everything could be gone, and you have no way to turn back time and change what you did with the blessings you were given.             This book is at times difficult to understand, but in the end, it is well worth it. It explains how the littlest things can be the most memorable. It says that you should cherish everything. Even the bad moments are something to cherish. If something happens and people feel bad, they will give you pity, and there will be no more fights.They will just pretend like the thing that made them unhappy never even happened because they know there is nothing they can do. Instead of having open conversations, everything would be kept in the dark. If you are look for a book to make you smile and make you cry, then this is a good one for you to read. It's a touching story to show how much things can change in the blink of an eye.
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