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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.


From the Trade Paperback edition.
Published: Random House Publishing Group on Mar 6, 2008
ISBN: 9780307454836
List price: $9.99
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This is a true account of a man who suffers a massive stroke in his early 40s and develops "locked in syndrome" as a result. I read it during my pediatrics residency, as my father's brother was similarly disabled after a series of strokes. Bauby is almost completely paralyzed, and is only able to blink his left eyelids, which is how he is able to communicate to his secretary to write the book. She goes through a version of the French alphabet letter by letter, and he blinks when she gets to the correct one. It was not as bleak as you would think, and was absolutely unforgettable. Unfortunately, if I remember correctly, he died on the same day that it was published. Highly recommended.read more
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There are few books , if any, that I can honestly say were anywhere near as moving as this one. If you haven't read it, do. It is far more uplifting and life enhancing than any of the so called 'self help' books you're likely to read and although simply written it does so with style.read more
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Amazing. I kept thinking in the short amount of time it took me to read this book, just how long it must have taken to write it, to blink out every letter of every word. I can't imagine living in that kind of prison. I took the way Mr. Bauby described his life before his stroke as being a superficial existence, that he didn't appreciate the things he had, not just the extravagance, but also the simple moments of his life. I got the feeling that if he could have one day back with his working body, it wouldn't be about the BMW or the fancy trips, it would be about spending time with his kids, watching his daughter do cartwheels and having a meaningful talk with his son.read more
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This is a true account of a man who suffers a massive stroke in his early 40s and develops "locked in syndrome" as a result. I read it during my pediatrics residency, as my father's brother was similarly disabled after a series of strokes. Bauby is almost completely paralyzed, and is only able to blink his left eyelids, which is how he is able to communicate to his secretary to write the book. She goes through a version of the French alphabet letter by letter, and he blinks when she gets to the correct one. It was not as bleak as you would think, and was absolutely unforgettable. Unfortunately, if I remember correctly, he died on the same day that it was published. Highly recommended.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
There are few books , if any, that I can honestly say were anywhere near as moving as this one. If you haven't read it, do. It is far more uplifting and life enhancing than any of the so called 'self help' books you're likely to read and although simply written it does so with style.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Amazing. I kept thinking in the short amount of time it took me to read this book, just how long it must have taken to write it, to blink out every letter of every word. I can't imagine living in that kind of prison. I took the way Mr. Bauby described his life before his stroke as being a superficial existence, that he didn't appreciate the things he had, not just the extravagance, but also the simple moments of his life. I got the feeling that if he could have one day back with his working body, it wouldn't be about the BMW or the fancy trips, it would be about spending time with his kids, watching his daughter do cartwheels and having a meaningful talk with his son.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
This is an empowering story about strength over adversity and a testament to the human condition. After suffering a devastating stroke, Jean-Dominique Bauby's life goes from elite magazine editor to a completely paralyzed, "locked-in," patient. The story details Bauby's struggles to learn how to communicate by blinking his left eye and how he connects with the people around him. It's a sad story, but it is uplifting as well.
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As other reviewers have commented, this book struck me not so much for the story within, but the fact that you know it was all dictated by Bauby blinking one eyelid. I read this book in two days but to be honest I was scared to begin it: I wasn't sure what it would be like. In fact, this book is many things, sad, funny, despairing, hopeful, accepting...above all, honest. One reviewer said this book was nothing special, but oh my god it IS special. Everyone should read this who moans about their life; who goes about the day-to-day without appreciating anything; who doesn't realise that your life can be shattered instantly. The book made me cry. It also made me ashamed that if I had known Bauby, I might have been one of those who never got in contact after his stroke, or who ran away upon seeing him. If you've never heard of locked-in syndrome, or even if you have, read this book. It is worth it.
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I heard about The Diving-Bell and the Butterfly many years ago. As part of our English GCSE work we looked at the play Whose Life Is It Anyway? and Jean-Dominique Bauby's autobiography came up in conversation. I didn't get to read it then though, the subject matter interested me, but I wasn't sure that it was the sort of thing that I really wanted to read (at the time).Then, a couple of years ago, it was the book choice for the HTV book club, so I grabbed a copy from the local library. I immediately fell in love with the cover. It was truly beautiful, all shiny and sparkly, like a butterfly's wing. Last year The Book People advertised their Stranger Than Fiction set of books and the main books that sold it to me were The Perfect Storm and this book. I really wanted a copy of my own, I would have loved to have had the copy pictured above, but I'm happy with the one I got.It's a truly incredible story, and it's quite horrifying to think about. Imagine being trapped in you own body, unable to move and your only method of communication is via blinking one eye (the other having been sewn shut for its own protection). It's a truly incredible story. Somehow all the more special because it's true, Bauby is telling his own story.It's a very short book. I started reading it in the morning, and was a good portion of the way through it by the time I stopped. When I went to bed (rather late) I decided to read on and realised I was over half-way through it. So I just kept going, it's far too good to stop and can easily be read in one sitting. I ended it finishing it shortly after midnight.I do rather selfishly wish that it was longer. It's a selfish thought of course, when you consider the effort that went into its creation. Bauby had to work with another person who would run through the letters of the alphabet and watch for his blink each time they reached the letter he wanted. It must have taken so much effort to get even a sentence out, I really can't complain about the fact that I wish there were another 160 pages to devour during my reading session.It's a book which really speaks for itself, there's so much I could say for it, but I think it would be far better for you just to go out and read a copy yourself. You'll fall in love with it, you just can't help but love it. Bauby has the chance to be such a tragic character, but he isn't really, it's incredible how he's able to keep going and produce a fantastic book. Though you can feel his pain in the text, the way he's longing for his lost life and independence. It's a real shame that he never got the chance to make more of a recovery; he died shortly after the book's publication.
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