The Diving Bell and the Butterfly: A Memoir of Life in Death (Vintage International)

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9780375701214: The Diving Bell and the Butterfly: A Memoir of Life in Death (Vintage International)
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In 1995, Jean-Dominique Bauby was the editor-in-chief of French Elle, the father of two young childen, a 44-year-old man known and loved for his wit, his style, and his impassioned approach to life. By the end of the year he was also the victim of a rare kind of stroke to the brainstem. After 20 days in a coma, Bauby awoke into a body which had all but stopped working: only his left eye functioned, allowing him to see and, by blinking it, to make clear that his mind was unimpaired. Almost miraculously, he was soon able to express himself in the richest detail: dictating a word at a time, blinking to select each letter as the alphabet was recited to him slowly, over and over again. In the same way, he was able eventually to compose this extraordinary book.
By turns wistful, mischievous, angry, and witty, Bauby bears witness to his determination to live as fully in his mind as he had been able to do in his body. He explains the joy, and deep sadness, of seeing his children and of hearing his aged father's voice on the phone. In magical sequences, he imagines traveling to other places and times and of lying next to the woman he loves. Fed only intravenously, he imagines preparing and tasting the full flavor of delectable dishes. Again and again he returns to an "inexhaustible reservoir of sensations, " keeping in touch with himself and the life around him.
Jean-Dominique Bauby died two days after the French publication of The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.
This book is a lasting testament to his life.

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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.

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.

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780375401152: The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

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ISBN 10: 0375401156 ISBN 13: 9780375401152
Publisher: Alfred a Knopf Inc, 1997
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9780007139842: The Diving-Bell and the Butterfly

Harper..., 2008
Softcover

9780307389251: The Diving Bell and the Butterfly: A Memoir of Life in Death (Vintage International)

Vintag..., 2007
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9780007790159: The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

Harper..., 2006
Softcover

9781857027792: The Diving-Bell and the Butterfly

Fourth..., 1997
Hardcover

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