Buy Used
£1.79
FREE Delivery on orders over £10.
Condition: Used: Good
Comment: This book is eligible for free delivery anywhere in the UK. Your order will be picked, packed and dispatched by Amazon. Buy with confidence!
Have one to sell?
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

The Diving-Bell and the Butterfly Hardcover – 10 Apr 1997

4.6 out of 5 stars 206 customer reviews

See all 30 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price
New from Used from
Hardcover, 10 Apr 1997
£44.04 £0.01

Man Booker International Prize 2017
A Horse Walks Into a Bar has won the Man Booker International Prize 2017. Learn more
click to open popover

Special offers and product promotions


Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.

  • Apple
  • Android
  • Windows Phone

To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.



Product details

  • Hardcover: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Fourth Estate; First Edition edition (10 April 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1857027795
  • ISBN-13: 978-1857027792
  • Product Dimensions: 22.4 x 1.6 x 14.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (206 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 518,119 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support?

Product description

Amazon Review

On December 8, 1995, Jean-Dominique Bauby's life was forever altered when a part of his body he'd never heard of--his brain stem--was rendered inactive. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, his exquisitely painful memoir, is neither a triumphant account of recovery nor a journey into the abyss of self-pity. Instead, it is a tender testament to the power of language and love. At 43, Bauby was defined by success, wit and charisma. But in the course of a few bewildering minutes, the editor-in-chief of French Elle became a victim of the rare locked-in syndrome. The only way he could express his frustration, however, was by blinking his left eye. The rest of his body could no longer respond. Bauby was determined to escape the paralysis of his diving bell and free the butterflies of his imagination. And with the help of ESA, "a hit parade in which each letter is placed according to the frequency of its use in the French language," Bauby did so. Visitors, and eventually his editor, would read each letter aloud and he would blink at the right one. Slowly--painstakingly-- words, sentences, paragraphs and even this graceful book emerged.

Bauby relays the horrors and small graces of his struggle, which range from awaking one day to discover his right eye being sewn shut to realising the significance of Father's Day, a holiday previously absent from his family's "emotional calendar": "Today we spent the whole of the symbolic day together, affirming that even a rough sketch, a shadow, a tiny fragment of a dad is still a dad." The author makes it clear that being locked in doesn't kick open the doors of perception, but The Diving Bell and the Butterfly is nonetheless a celebration of life. Jean Dominique-Bauby died of a heart attack on March 9, 1997, two days after his book was published in France. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

* 'Vibrantly, insistently, a tale for our times... it is one of the great books of the century.' Financial Times. * 'This is a memoir where the man speaks for the moment, and it is one of the great books of the century.' Jackie Wullschlager, Financial Times. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

See all Product description

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Bookaholic TOP 500 REVIEWER on 23 Dec. 2015
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book was written by Jean-Dominique Bauby after he had suffered a massive stroke & was suffering from "Locked In Syndrome". His only communication with the outside world was by blinking his left eyelid. This book is an insight into his thoughts & feelings.
This is a very profound book. It is not a wallowing of self pity but observations of the world around & of his own past which kept the author from intense boredom. It explores the glorious events of his past which keep him company while he is "locked in". The sights & most particularly the smells. The taste of special food, the experiences of laughter & sadness. Intermingled with the past are the authors thoughts & comments on the world in which he now lives. The medics he comes in contact with , the visitors who write & visit & other patients in the hospital.
This book did not reduce me to tears as I was reading it. I don't think that was the author's intention. The purpose was to remind us of all those little things we take for granted so easily.
I am glad that I read this book. It is simple & uncomplicated. The text just flowed & before I knew it, I had reached the end. It is thought provoking. How quickly this man's life turned from a successful journalist to a locked in quadraplegic. It does us all good now & then to take stock of things and be thankful for what we have.
Comment 3 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
AMAZING! everyone needs to read this
Comment 2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Beautiful and emotional story
Comment One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Touching, a book everyone should read
Comment One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Paperback
The Diving-Bell and the Butterfly is a truly extraordinary book and gives us a unique insight into a thankfully rare condition known as locked in syndrome. In 1995 Jean Dominique Bauby, Editor in Chief of Elle Magazine, suffered a massive stroke which rendered him completely paralysed and speechless. Communicating by blinking his left eyelid he painstakingly dictated this book and died two days after its publication. The ability of Bauby to keep his composure in the face of such a terrifying experience seems to be attributable to a futile belief in his ultimate recovery and a side effect of this syndrome where sufferers do not appear to experience terror, rather tranquillity tapered by sadness. Few sufferers have expressed a wish to die thus demonstrating the strength of the human spirit and the triumph of hope over adversity. There are moments of deep sadness and one of the most poignant passages describes father's day on the beach when Bauby longs to reach out and hug his young son. However, at times the book is a celebration of his former charmed life and the richness of his narrative is remarkable as he recalls his past in vivid detail. Very thought provoking and well worth the read
Comment 60 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
An interesting short book which I enjoyed reading.
Makes you feel fortunate to be alive and healthy. I read other reviews before purchasing which will be more detailed and informative than this!
Comment One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Paperback
At the age of 43, Jean-Dominique Bauby, chief editor of the 'Elle', suffered a cerebrovascular infarction, causing him to be completely paralysed, unable to speak, and to interact with his environment only by blinking. 'Butterfly and diving bell' was dictated by Bauby with his left eyelid. Bauby died of heart failure only a few days after the first publication in France.

Bauby is full of sarcasm and gibberish about his life before and after his brain injury. At times one would like to laugh at his wit, but with the laughter immediately being stuck in your throat. His view of things is merciless and hits the mark. This certainly might be disturbing and too rough/direct for many, but in my opinion it is absolutely authentic and makes this book so special.

The change of perspective that Bauby offers is exciting and at the same time shocking. Things get a completely new value. I was particularly impressed by the situation when Bauby was mobilized into a wheelchair for the first time - he was so glad he could finally leave the bed. Bauby says: 'From being the sick, I have become the disabled.' And 'but I have remained calm, fully occupied with measuring the brutal devaluation of my future perspective.' I find Bauby's book highly emotional, although some reviewers criticized the lack of emotion. Bauby is angry, disappointed, desperate, mourns for his lost life, cries discreetly - there is a depth of emotion, it can easily overwhelm you, rush over you like a gigantic wave.

A disturbing and moving testimony of a patient with locked-in syndrome. Everybody should read this book, seriously!
Comment One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Paperback
TDBATB is quite possibly one of the most fantastic pieces of literature I have ever had the fortune to read. His sensitive style, that comes out in both his native French and English, is so hearwarmingly accessable (for the want of a less patrionising phrase) that one cannot fail to be moved by it. Deeply moving, his motifs of escape, the sea and the lighthouse as a pillar of strength coupled with his razor-sharp wit that he feels he has lost to the outside world, portray his changing relationships with those around him in a way that the reader is instantly moved....but, as he wishes, shows no pity. As the blurb said on the back of one of my copies: 'read this book and fall in love with life'
Comment 8 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse