The Diving-Bell and the Butterfly Paperback – 1 Jul 2008
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‘The most remarkable memoir of our time.’ Cynthia Ozick
‘Read this book and fall back in love with life.’ Edmund White
‘A staggering piece of work. It represents an almost inconceivable act of generosity, the gift of the mind and the spirit for which writing was designed.’ A. L. Kennedy
‘One of the great books of the century.’ Financial Times
‘Everyone in the country should own at least one copy.’ Guardian
‘We listen, because what he has to say goes to the core of what it means to be human.’ Robert McCrum, Observer
‘The most extraordinary book of the year.’ Daily Telegraph
'Life-enhancing and devastating in equal measure – everyone should read it.' Gloss magazine
The diary of Jean-Dominique Bauby who, with his left eyelid (the only surviving muscle after a massive stroke) dictated a remarkable book about his experiences locked inside his body. A masterpiece and a bestseller in France, it is now a major motion picture directed by Julian Schnabel. On 8 December 1995, Jean-Dominique Bauby suffered a massive stroke and slipped into a coma. When he regained consciousness three weeks later, the only muscle left functioning was in his left eyelid although his mind remained as active and alert as it had ever been. He spent most of 1996 writing this book, letter by letter, blinking as an alphabet was repeatedly read out to him. 'The Diving-Bell and the Butterfly' was published in France on Thursday 6th March 1997. It was immediately hailed as a masterpiece. And then, three days later, he died. 'The Diving-Bell and the Butterfly', which records Bauby's lonely existence, is probably the most remarkable book about the triumph of the human spirit, the ability to invent a life for oneself in the most appalling of circumstances, that you will ever read.It has now been made into a captivating film, directed by Julian Schnabel and starring Mathieu Amalric, which was the winner of the award for Best Director at Cannes and nominated for the Palm d'Or.See all Product description
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I found it moving to hear how he could find the positives in current life while not glossing too much over the tragedy of his condition. It's a testament to his bravery and ironic sense of humour and the help he received from those around him. This is not a dreary, sad book although there are tragic moments - it's fascinating to see the view from his perspective and I hope will help me appreciate my life more and have more sympathy and patience with those who suffer.
It's quite a small book (novella) with short chapters, great read for travelling or just before bead
The book is a breathtaking account of one man's thoughts and feelings with 'locked-in' syndrome or basically what you would consider a human vegetable. But it is much more complex, the ex-Editor in Chief of Elle Magazine writes an incredible prose full of wonder, excitement and description. The chapters are short and easy to digest.
I recommend seeing both the film and reading the book here is why:
The book - gives an account of this persons thoughts, feelings and a little insight into his personality. This tells you what is on the inside.
The Film - Is a great piece of movie making which explains what is happening on the outside from the moment Mr. Bauby wakes up in hospital to the end really.
My mother did not want to read the book because she felt it would make her feel sad, but it is quite the opposite. In fact, reading about victims of locked-in syndrome on Wikipedia out of the 20 or so cases around the world, only one committed suicide. The others? Just got on with things including a talent scout that works for Middlesbrough.
Well worth a read!
This is a memoir written by Jean-Dominique Bauby and is formed of a series of anecdotes and experiences of his life before and after the stroke that left him afflicted by the condition known as Locked-in syndrome and only able to communicate via the blinking of one eye.
It doesn't have a strictly chronological narrative, but still manages to tell his story and cut to the heart of his emotions and the point he is trying to make with searing honesty and power. Bauby writes with a humour that belies the turmoil he is going through and his eloquence brings you fully into his mindset and also marvelling at some of the language he uses.
I have read numerous memoirs about neurological conditions and whilst others have resonated with me more (like Michael J Fox's memoir, Kirk Douglas' autobiography or Christopher Reeves' autobiography) this book still manages to leave you in awe at Bauby's tenacity and his strength of character. It is short, beautifully written and thought provoking.
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