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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.


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Published: Random House Publishing Group on
ISBN: 9780307454836
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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.more
Words flow like the images and emotions of poetry. One thought leads to another. The rambling mind touches, like a butterfly, just long enough to draw the essence from a story, and then moves fluidly to another. Jean-Dominique Bauby's body was the immobile, weighty shell, the diving bell, his perfect simile, yet in his head he roved the world and composed the words that would let us in. Intent on looking for the cure to let him move again, he moves forward in his final words "We must keep looking. I'll be off now" and six months later he was dead.


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I never really intended or wanted to read this and actually avoided the book on at least two occasions, but found myself bored and bookless, browsing the communal bookshelf at work. Deciding that you can't ignore a book if it crosses your path three times, I sat down and started to read.

There's no getting around the fact that it's bloody miserable. It's poignant too and there's something uplifting about the fact that someone managed to dictate this with blinking as the only means of communication. On a good day, I can't make sense even with the utility of words and a big mouth and here's someone who wrote this book through blinks of an eye.

I really felt for the writer as he spoke of being at the mercy of someone else for his personal hygiene. Anyone who's had any level of hospital experience will know that sometimes the thing which is worse than your body conking out is the way it leaves you without your precious sense of dignity, exposing you to strangers. Which is why despite seeing the courage and the strength it must have taken to compose this book, I couldn't help but be totally focused on the locked-in aspect and how it scared the fucking bejaysus out of me.

Scary read.more
What a book! The story behind the story is tragic and as Bauby's struggle is revealed, so too is the resilient nature of the human spirit. Wonderfully uplifting and moving, this book is definitely worth a look.more
A list of the letters in the French alphabet, in order of common use. A man who can only turn his head and bit and move his left eye, due to a stroke. A system where a woman reads the list of letters over and over again, stopping and writing down a letter when the man blinks.

Holy just I don't even what. Uuuuuugh. Composing, repeating, memorizing sentences in your head so you can dictate them later. Going through the process of revision like that too!!

This book isn't about all that, though he does give you some idea what he's gone through to get his thoughts on paper. It's about reflections on his life, society, and his current situation where one of his greatest sadnesses is not being able to hug his young son.

WOW. A very short read... and worth it. I think EVERYONE should read this. Why isn't it assigned more in school!?more
Beautiful, terrifying, and inspiring.more
I have just finished reading it twice firstly because it is only 130 pages long and secondly it had quite an affect on me.For those who does not know the history behind this book, Baubey was editor of French Elle when at 43 suffered a massive stroke which left him a victim of 'locked in syndrome' only able to communicate with the outside world by blinking one eye.This book left me both up-lifted and disturbed by the same measure. At the time he was a few years younger than I am at present but was no longer able to enjoy simple pleasures like eat, drink or take a bath which we all do without much thought yet while there is naturally a certain amount anger and remorse the general tone of the book is not self-pitying and there is even a little light humour as he remembers past experiences. I was left wondering how I would cope in a similar position and whether or not it made me more or less in favour of euthanasia (forgive me if mis-spelt but not word tend to use too often). Would the will to survive be an over-riding consideration or would I look for escape?If you are looking for some great literary masterpiece then this is not for you, mainly because you would be missing the point totally, but if you are looking for something very different and in it's own way challenging to read then I would heartily recommend this book.more
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.more
This book reminded me a lot of "Johnny Got His Gun," but more gentle. I can personally relate because of an autoimmune disorder where I constantly feel "locked-in," and being bedridden and going through the routine of so many doctors and hospitals, I felt like I was actually experiencing what Jean-Dominique was describing. Speaking of descriptions, Jean-Dominique's writing is as beautiful as the story told within them: "Hunched in my wheelchair, I watch my children surreptitiously as their mother pushes me down the hospital corridor. While I have become something of a zombie father, Theophile and Celeste are very much flesh and blood, energetic and noisy. I will never tire of seeing them walk alongside me, just walking, their confident expressions masking the unease weighing on their small shoulders. As he walks, Theophile dabs with a Kleenex at the thread of saliva escaping my closed lips. His movements are tentative, at once tender and fearful, as if he were dealing with an animal of unpredictable reactions. As soon as we slow down, Celeste cradles my head in her bare arms, covers my forehead with noisy kisses, and says over and over, 'You're my dad, you're my dad,' as if in incantation. Today is Father's Day."more
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.more
How can one properly criticize this book knowing the extreme challenges that were put to Jean-Dominique Bauby in writing it? Once the vibrant head of French "Elle" magazine, he suffered a debillitating stroke that left him with locked-in syndrome, his only means of communication his one remaining functional part: a blinking eye. Through the collaboration of his speech therapist, who invented a system of reciting letters of the alphabet out loud for Bauby to choose with a blink, Bauby was able to make known the daily life, pain, and challenges of one whose brain is still first-rate, but whose body is rendered useless. We see his joys in his active imagination, where he can go anywhere and do anything. But more powerful are his challenges: the hospital employees who ignore or mistreat him, the inability to hold his children, the loss of hope for independant life.The book is short and I would have loved to have been given more. But, as I noted earlier, it feels callous to demand more when you realize just how much effort went into getting one sentence down, let alone over one hundred pages. The film deals with this by exploring the friction in the dynamics between Bauby, his ex-wife, and his current lover. The book has little such character development, and the mother of his children is but a blip in the novel. Instead, we are focused squarely on Bauby and his struggles, which provides more than enough meat for a discussion.Sadly (or mercifully?), Bauby passed away days after his book was published. His legacy is hopefully the insight that greater compassion and understanding is necessary for those dismissed as "vegetables."more
I read this book in the couple of hours before I went to sleep - it had been sitting on my shelves for years and I thought it was about time I tried it. It is the amazing memoir of a man who suffered a major stroke and woke from his coma to find that he was suffering from 'locked in syndrome' and that while his mind was intact the only part of his body that he could move was his left eyelid (he dictates this memoir by blinking when his helper says the correct letter in the alphabet). This is an incredible story, I cannot imagine dealing with his situation with the good grace and humour apparent in the book. The saddest part is that he died two days after the the book was published.more
A couple of lines or eight pages, a Middle Eastern stamp or a suburban post mark . . . I hoard all these letters like treasure. One day I hope to fasten them end to end in a half-mile streamer, to float in the wind like a banner raised to the glory of friendship. It will keep the vultures at bay.Jean-Dominique Bauby was the editor-in-chief of French Elle magazine when he suffered a massive stroke. On awaking from his coma he found that he was a quadraplegic, only able to turn his head and blink with his left eyelid. This is the book that he 'dictated' from his hospital bed by blinking. He died three days after it was published to great acclaim.E S A R I N T U L O M D P C F B V H G I Q Z Y X K Wmore
It's hard to say this is a good book when it deals with such tragic matter. If you are having a bad day and feeling down on yourself just read this book. I can't imagine a more horrible problem than "locked in syndrome." The courage and determination that Jean Bauby had in writing this book is incredible. To translate every letter of every word by blinking his eye is just unbelievable. The best thing is that thru his efforts on this book he gave a voice to those that suffer this fate. His family and everyone should be extremely proud of the grace and dignity in which he handeled this infliction. It's a quick read and I would highly recommend it.more
Like most of my library, I bought this book used and its lingering smell of stale cigarettes left me leaving it on the shelf unread. However, I finally reopened it, wanting a short and quick read. I am disappointed in myself for waiting so long.Bauby suffers a massive stroke in which he is alive, but without any physical movement - except his left eyelid. The entire text is his, written through a complex transcription system of blinking. That the text is in any way merry is astonishing; Bauby makes you laugh and enjoy living as he clearly details his own suffering. It is a small work of genius.more
This has been on my wishlist since I first heard about it in the first weeks I was on BookCrossing. I refused to see the movie because I wanted to read the book first. This copy was purchased at a Friends of the Library sale in Rabun County, Georgia. The picture on the label in the book is from a mural that graced the walls at Redux in 2010.Beautiful, heart-wrenching, terrifying, illuminating, magnificent, hopeful, and oh so sad...I am terrified of illnesses and accidents that destroy minds, or that keep brains from expressing themselves.If one of my friends wants it, I'll send it to them, otherwise, I'll find someone who has it on their wishlist and pass it along as a RABCK. I waited 7 years for a copy. Maybe I can lessen someone else's wait.more
When every word requires effort to communicate to the page, they are chosen very carefully. The writing is beautiful in its simplicity and careful use of words, not to mention its deep and introspective story of gradually losing the interaction with one's own life. When all he can do is think about life and no longer actively live it, Bauby crafts a stirringly beautiful (and short) book. One of the few times I saw a movie and then sought out the book afterwards.more
I read this beautiful, beautiful book in a single sitting, late last night. I lay awake for hours afterwards thinking about it. Perhaps already famous for having been written by a man who communicated only by blinking one eye, there was always the danger that this book would turn out to be trite, poorly written, even dull. None of these came to pass. I’m quite sure that Bauby could have had a long career as the writer of great literature, had things turned out differently. As it happened, Bauby found himself imprisoned. Trapped in his failing body, suddenly unable to move, when previously he had been an active forty-something with a family and a high-flying job, Bauby’s bewilderment is the most clear and profound message of this book. He speaks eloquently of his experience of the hospital, of each of his torturous days, of his few jaunts into the outside world. Perhaps most touching is his description of the day of his stroke, which was like any other until his world was torn from its moorings. That sense of a sudden horror resonated like a bell for me; serious illness swoops unexpectedly from nowhere and scrambles human lives into something unrecognisable.Would I recommend this book? Yes. Would you want to read it? If you’re not afraid of powerlessness, of frustration, of suffering that cannot properly be expressed, and a sense that Bauby was one of the great writers we never really got to read.more
Short but poetic and engaging. Even without realizing how long it took for Bauby to dictate this book, each chapter is still remarkable. I hope that I never find myself in his condition, but if somehow I do, I hope that I have the courage to face that life with the same amount of humor and creativeness that he did. The overall effect left me feeling very thankful for being fully in control of my body and able to enjoy life to its fullest.more
The story of Bauby's experiences as a paraplegic who could only communicate using one winking eye. It tells the reader how it feels to be locked inside your body with no means of easy communication with the outside world. Extraordinary.more
A lesson of a unique book for carrying all life. An unputdounable story of a man who had a stroke and writes a book blinking his left eye to choose letters and write an unforgettable story. A narrative to reflect on how worth things are in life and how we hard is the value of making wrong decisions.more
This is a beautifully written, memoir by the editor-in-chief of the magazine, Elle. Bauby suffered a massive stroke in his 40s, leaving him unable to communicate except by blinking his left eye. Somehow, it is not a particularly sad book. It is obvious from his story that he was a man who lived "the good life" of wealth, travel, good food, and a loving family. In spite of all that he lost, his reflections are full of beautiful imagery of his past life, the day dreams that he used to manage his present situation and his hopes for the future. His thoughts seemed to seep directly into my mind, fully developed as images, without the normally required translation into written words. A tiny treasure.more
My daughter had to read this for school so I thought I would as well. It is amazing in it's testament for the need to communicate. Jean Bauby tells his story by blinking his left eye as someone reads through the French alphabet. His recent stroke has placed him in a state where only his left eye and his mind are functioning. This is called Locked in Syndrome. Despite this disability Bauby is able to provide for us insights into his life and dreams. I found the extraordinary process of trying to write this a bit more interesting that the actual words. There are memories and anecdotes that are at times interesting, but overall the most involving of stories was that this was actually produced. Ironically or tragically he died just after this project, which makes this even more telling - perhaps the quest of communication was what was keeping him alive.more
Perhaps if Jean-Dominique Bauby's story of "locked-in syndrome" - a rare cerebrovascular condition in which the mind ("The Butterfly") is vibrant and wide awake, while the body ("The Diving Bell") is a slumbering mass of perpetual immobility and inertia (a very personal prison cell comprised of his own flesh and blood) - were fictional rather than so terribly true, I'd of more so savored each of his spare sentences. For each sparkling sentence is a story or a truth unto itself."But to keep my mind sharp, to avoid descending into resigned indifference, I maintain a level of resentment and anger, neither too much nor too little, just as a pressure cooker has a safety valve to keep it from exploding."Chew on that lyrical gem a bit. Words to live by, even if your body, unlike Bauby's, is not permanently paralyzed.Perhaps if this poor man, victim of a massive and usually lethal stroke at 43 that left him in a coma for two months, weren't dead right now, and hadn't died so soon after completing what could be considered the most concentrated (and certainly shortest) tome ever written, or had I not known these horrible facts while reading the book, I could say then, and only then, that I enjoyed it, the book. I greatly enjoyed the poetic, philosophic writing, the sardonic humor despite his heartfelt and unfathomable (for someone not trapped in his godawful situation) psychological suffering and loss, and even the occasional, understandable, bitter barbs of incisive wit he let loose, I liked too (i.e., an insensitive, gruff doctor asks Bauby, "Do you see double?", and Bauby, internally, replies, "Yes, I see two assholes, not one."). But how can I honestly say I enjoyed this story? I suppose I did enjoy it - the storytelling, that is - but I likewise didn't enjoy poor Jean-Dominique Bauby's tragic story. A story that just as easily could be anyone's story at any time, should Fate or God or The Cosmos or Whatever determines to do to you what it determined so abruptly and brutally - fatally - for Bauby. It's so much easier to read something deliciously depressing like The Road because it's obviously made up stuff no matter how realistic the author breathes whatever bleak and ruined life into the characters and settings and scenarios he's created, but The Diving Bell And The Butterfly is about as in-your-face, depressingly real as it gets. And it's not depressing necessarily because of anything Bauby said (or how he said it) - though I will wholeheartedly say that Bauby said as much about life - and about death and suffering and how to deal with the latter two as optimistically as possible - I believe, in barely 100 pages (and did so only by blinking his left eye! - you just try communicating and writing anything - let alone what borders on the meaning of life - just by blinking your left eye!), as any existentialist, 19th century Russian masterpiece could say even though it pushed or exceeded a thousand pages. Bauby indelibly tapped into the primal human horror of having complete consciousness, and yet being so ill-equipped to communicate that consciousness - to connect it - to another human being as to take humanity's innate dread of loneliness and abandonment to levels perhaps previously unrealized in fiction or non-fiction. I've a dear daughter "locked-in" her own isolated interior world of autism, and knowing Bauby through his brief book, helps me understand and recognize more clearly that there's probably a lot more going on beneath the surface with my mostly non-verbal, uncommunicative daughter than I ever realized.The book, quite simply, is beautifully sad. Hopeful, and yet despairing. Inspiring, yes, but not "joyous," as the dumb publishing blurb on the back, falsely claims. Movie tie-in marketing no comprendo's.I don't recommend The Diving Bell And The Butterfly, but I think everyone should read it.more
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.more
This is a book written by a man with locked in syndrome. He communicates entirely with one eyelid. Before his stroke he was a editor of a woman's magazine - which comes through in the excellent qualitiy of his writting. He takes you on his dreams and into his world.more
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.more
An amazing feat of a book, which is remarkably well written and oozing with humour.I felt compelled to read it slowly, and had to keep pausing to take in the fact that every letter had been dictated through the blink of one eye.Everyone should take the time to read this book, Jean Dominique Bauby is an inspiration.more
Hmm. A marmite book - you either love it or loathe it. For me, the only interest lied in the story-tellers own position. His is a tale of suffering and overcoming the odds; it follows the template that such tales usually do, of the troubled normal life, the terrible accident (or illness), the struggle in hospital, the desire to give up, the strength that is discovered deep down. I've heard it so many times before; I hate being blunt, but this story wasn't news to me, and wasn't interesting enough for me to want to consider it 'one of the most important novels of the century.'more
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Reviews

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.more
Words flow like the images and emotions of poetry. One thought leads to another. The rambling mind touches, like a butterfly, just long enough to draw the essence from a story, and then moves fluidly to another. Jean-Dominique Bauby's body was the immobile, weighty shell, the diving bell, his perfect simile, yet in his head he roved the world and composed the words that would let us in. Intent on looking for the cure to let him move again, he moves forward in his final words "We must keep looking. I'll be off now" and six months later he was dead.


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I never really intended or wanted to read this and actually avoided the book on at least two occasions, but found myself bored and bookless, browsing the communal bookshelf at work. Deciding that you can't ignore a book if it crosses your path three times, I sat down and started to read.

There's no getting around the fact that it's bloody miserable. It's poignant too and there's something uplifting about the fact that someone managed to dictate this with blinking as the only means of communication. On a good day, I can't make sense even with the utility of words and a big mouth and here's someone who wrote this book through blinks of an eye.

I really felt for the writer as he spoke of being at the mercy of someone else for his personal hygiene. Anyone who's had any level of hospital experience will know that sometimes the thing which is worse than your body conking out is the way it leaves you without your precious sense of dignity, exposing you to strangers. Which is why despite seeing the courage and the strength it must have taken to compose this book, I couldn't help but be totally focused on the locked-in aspect and how it scared the fucking bejaysus out of me.

Scary read.more
What a book! The story behind the story is tragic and as Bauby's struggle is revealed, so too is the resilient nature of the human spirit. Wonderfully uplifting and moving, this book is definitely worth a look.more
A list of the letters in the French alphabet, in order of common use. A man who can only turn his head and bit and move his left eye, due to a stroke. A system where a woman reads the list of letters over and over again, stopping and writing down a letter when the man blinks.

Holy just I don't even what. Uuuuuugh. Composing, repeating, memorizing sentences in your head so you can dictate them later. Going through the process of revision like that too!!

This book isn't about all that, though he does give you some idea what he's gone through to get his thoughts on paper. It's about reflections on his life, society, and his current situation where one of his greatest sadnesses is not being able to hug his young son.

WOW. A very short read... and worth it. I think EVERYONE should read this. Why isn't it assigned more in school!?more
Beautiful, terrifying, and inspiring.more
I have just finished reading it twice firstly because it is only 130 pages long and secondly it had quite an affect on me.For those who does not know the history behind this book, Baubey was editor of French Elle when at 43 suffered a massive stroke which left him a victim of 'locked in syndrome' only able to communicate with the outside world by blinking one eye.This book left me both up-lifted and disturbed by the same measure. At the time he was a few years younger than I am at present but was no longer able to enjoy simple pleasures like eat, drink or take a bath which we all do without much thought yet while there is naturally a certain amount anger and remorse the general tone of the book is not self-pitying and there is even a little light humour as he remembers past experiences. I was left wondering how I would cope in a similar position and whether or not it made me more or less in favour of euthanasia (forgive me if mis-spelt but not word tend to use too often). Would the will to survive be an over-riding consideration or would I look for escape?If you are looking for some great literary masterpiece then this is not for you, mainly because you would be missing the point totally, but if you are looking for something very different and in it's own way challenging to read then I would heartily recommend this book.more
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.more
This book reminded me a lot of "Johnny Got His Gun," but more gentle. I can personally relate because of an autoimmune disorder where I constantly feel "locked-in," and being bedridden and going through the routine of so many doctors and hospitals, I felt like I was actually experiencing what Jean-Dominique was describing. Speaking of descriptions, Jean-Dominique's writing is as beautiful as the story told within them: "Hunched in my wheelchair, I watch my children surreptitiously as their mother pushes me down the hospital corridor. While I have become something of a zombie father, Theophile and Celeste are very much flesh and blood, energetic and noisy. I will never tire of seeing them walk alongside me, just walking, their confident expressions masking the unease weighing on their small shoulders. As he walks, Theophile dabs with a Kleenex at the thread of saliva escaping my closed lips. His movements are tentative, at once tender and fearful, as if he were dealing with an animal of unpredictable reactions. As soon as we slow down, Celeste cradles my head in her bare arms, covers my forehead with noisy kisses, and says over and over, 'You're my dad, you're my dad,' as if in incantation. Today is Father's Day."more
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.more
How can one properly criticize this book knowing the extreme challenges that were put to Jean-Dominique Bauby in writing it? Once the vibrant head of French "Elle" magazine, he suffered a debillitating stroke that left him with locked-in syndrome, his only means of communication his one remaining functional part: a blinking eye. Through the collaboration of his speech therapist, who invented a system of reciting letters of the alphabet out loud for Bauby to choose with a blink, Bauby was able to make known the daily life, pain, and challenges of one whose brain is still first-rate, but whose body is rendered useless. We see his joys in his active imagination, where he can go anywhere and do anything. But more powerful are his challenges: the hospital employees who ignore or mistreat him, the inability to hold his children, the loss of hope for independant life.The book is short and I would have loved to have been given more. But, as I noted earlier, it feels callous to demand more when you realize just how much effort went into getting one sentence down, let alone over one hundred pages. The film deals with this by exploring the friction in the dynamics between Bauby, his ex-wife, and his current lover. The book has little such character development, and the mother of his children is but a blip in the novel. Instead, we are focused squarely on Bauby and his struggles, which provides more than enough meat for a discussion.Sadly (or mercifully?), Bauby passed away days after his book was published. His legacy is hopefully the insight that greater compassion and understanding is necessary for those dismissed as "vegetables."more
I read this book in the couple of hours before I went to sleep - it had been sitting on my shelves for years and I thought it was about time I tried it. It is the amazing memoir of a man who suffered a major stroke and woke from his coma to find that he was suffering from 'locked in syndrome' and that while his mind was intact the only part of his body that he could move was his left eyelid (he dictates this memoir by blinking when his helper says the correct letter in the alphabet). This is an incredible story, I cannot imagine dealing with his situation with the good grace and humour apparent in the book. The saddest part is that he died two days after the the book was published.more
A couple of lines or eight pages, a Middle Eastern stamp or a suburban post mark . . . I hoard all these letters like treasure. One day I hope to fasten them end to end in a half-mile streamer, to float in the wind like a banner raised to the glory of friendship. It will keep the vultures at bay.Jean-Dominique Bauby was the editor-in-chief of French Elle magazine when he suffered a massive stroke. On awaking from his coma he found that he was a quadraplegic, only able to turn his head and blink with his left eyelid. This is the book that he 'dictated' from his hospital bed by blinking. He died three days after it was published to great acclaim.E S A R I N T U L O M D P C F B V H G I Q Z Y X K Wmore
It's hard to say this is a good book when it deals with such tragic matter. If you are having a bad day and feeling down on yourself just read this book. I can't imagine a more horrible problem than "locked in syndrome." The courage and determination that Jean Bauby had in writing this book is incredible. To translate every letter of every word by blinking his eye is just unbelievable. The best thing is that thru his efforts on this book he gave a voice to those that suffer this fate. His family and everyone should be extremely proud of the grace and dignity in which he handeled this infliction. It's a quick read and I would highly recommend it.more
Like most of my library, I bought this book used and its lingering smell of stale cigarettes left me leaving it on the shelf unread. However, I finally reopened it, wanting a short and quick read. I am disappointed in myself for waiting so long.Bauby suffers a massive stroke in which he is alive, but without any physical movement - except his left eyelid. The entire text is his, written through a complex transcription system of blinking. That the text is in any way merry is astonishing; Bauby makes you laugh and enjoy living as he clearly details his own suffering. It is a small work of genius.more
This has been on my wishlist since I first heard about it in the first weeks I was on BookCrossing. I refused to see the movie because I wanted to read the book first. This copy was purchased at a Friends of the Library sale in Rabun County, Georgia. The picture on the label in the book is from a mural that graced the walls at Redux in 2010.Beautiful, heart-wrenching, terrifying, illuminating, magnificent, hopeful, and oh so sad...I am terrified of illnesses and accidents that destroy minds, or that keep brains from expressing themselves.If one of my friends wants it, I'll send it to them, otherwise, I'll find someone who has it on their wishlist and pass it along as a RABCK. I waited 7 years for a copy. Maybe I can lessen someone else's wait.more
When every word requires effort to communicate to the page, they are chosen very carefully. The writing is beautiful in its simplicity and careful use of words, not to mention its deep and introspective story of gradually losing the interaction with one's own life. When all he can do is think about life and no longer actively live it, Bauby crafts a stirringly beautiful (and short) book. One of the few times I saw a movie and then sought out the book afterwards.more
I read this beautiful, beautiful book in a single sitting, late last night. I lay awake for hours afterwards thinking about it. Perhaps already famous for having been written by a man who communicated only by blinking one eye, there was always the danger that this book would turn out to be trite, poorly written, even dull. None of these came to pass. I’m quite sure that Bauby could have had a long career as the writer of great literature, had things turned out differently. As it happened, Bauby found himself imprisoned. Trapped in his failing body, suddenly unable to move, when previously he had been an active forty-something with a family and a high-flying job, Bauby’s bewilderment is the most clear and profound message of this book. He speaks eloquently of his experience of the hospital, of each of his torturous days, of his few jaunts into the outside world. Perhaps most touching is his description of the day of his stroke, which was like any other until his world was torn from its moorings. That sense of a sudden horror resonated like a bell for me; serious illness swoops unexpectedly from nowhere and scrambles human lives into something unrecognisable.Would I recommend this book? Yes. Would you want to read it? If you’re not afraid of powerlessness, of frustration, of suffering that cannot properly be expressed, and a sense that Bauby was one of the great writers we never really got to read.more
Short but poetic and engaging. Even without realizing how long it took for Bauby to dictate this book, each chapter is still remarkable. I hope that I never find myself in his condition, but if somehow I do, I hope that I have the courage to face that life with the same amount of humor and creativeness that he did. The overall effect left me feeling very thankful for being fully in control of my body and able to enjoy life to its fullest.more
The story of Bauby's experiences as a paraplegic who could only communicate using one winking eye. It tells the reader how it feels to be locked inside your body with no means of easy communication with the outside world. Extraordinary.more
A lesson of a unique book for carrying all life. An unputdounable story of a man who had a stroke and writes a book blinking his left eye to choose letters and write an unforgettable story. A narrative to reflect on how worth things are in life and how we hard is the value of making wrong decisions.more
This is a beautifully written, memoir by the editor-in-chief of the magazine, Elle. Bauby suffered a massive stroke in his 40s, leaving him unable to communicate except by blinking his left eye. Somehow, it is not a particularly sad book. It is obvious from his story that he was a man who lived "the good life" of wealth, travel, good food, and a loving family. In spite of all that he lost, his reflections are full of beautiful imagery of his past life, the day dreams that he used to manage his present situation and his hopes for the future. His thoughts seemed to seep directly into my mind, fully developed as images, without the normally required translation into written words. A tiny treasure.more
My daughter had to read this for school so I thought I would as well. It is amazing in it's testament for the need to communicate. Jean Bauby tells his story by blinking his left eye as someone reads through the French alphabet. His recent stroke has placed him in a state where only his left eye and his mind are functioning. This is called Locked in Syndrome. Despite this disability Bauby is able to provide for us insights into his life and dreams. I found the extraordinary process of trying to write this a bit more interesting that the actual words. There are memories and anecdotes that are at times interesting, but overall the most involving of stories was that this was actually produced. Ironically or tragically he died just after this project, which makes this even more telling - perhaps the quest of communication was what was keeping him alive.more
Perhaps if Jean-Dominique Bauby's story of "locked-in syndrome" - a rare cerebrovascular condition in which the mind ("The Butterfly") is vibrant and wide awake, while the body ("The Diving Bell") is a slumbering mass of perpetual immobility and inertia (a very personal prison cell comprised of his own flesh and blood) - were fictional rather than so terribly true, I'd of more so savored each of his spare sentences. For each sparkling sentence is a story or a truth unto itself."But to keep my mind sharp, to avoid descending into resigned indifference, I maintain a level of resentment and anger, neither too much nor too little, just as a pressure cooker has a safety valve to keep it from exploding."Chew on that lyrical gem a bit. Words to live by, even if your body, unlike Bauby's, is not permanently paralyzed.Perhaps if this poor man, victim of a massive and usually lethal stroke at 43 that left him in a coma for two months, weren't dead right now, and hadn't died so soon after completing what could be considered the most concentrated (and certainly shortest) tome ever written, or had I not known these horrible facts while reading the book, I could say then, and only then, that I enjoyed it, the book. I greatly enjoyed the poetic, philosophic writing, the sardonic humor despite his heartfelt and unfathomable (for someone not trapped in his godawful situation) psychological suffering and loss, and even the occasional, understandable, bitter barbs of incisive wit he let loose, I liked too (i.e., an insensitive, gruff doctor asks Bauby, "Do you see double?", and Bauby, internally, replies, "Yes, I see two assholes, not one."). But how can I honestly say I enjoyed this story? I suppose I did enjoy it - the storytelling, that is - but I likewise didn't enjoy poor Jean-Dominique Bauby's tragic story. A story that just as easily could be anyone's story at any time, should Fate or God or The Cosmos or Whatever determines to do to you what it determined so abruptly and brutally - fatally - for Bauby. It's so much easier to read something deliciously depressing like The Road because it's obviously made up stuff no matter how realistic the author breathes whatever bleak and ruined life into the characters and settings and scenarios he's created, but The Diving Bell And The Butterfly is about as in-your-face, depressingly real as it gets. And it's not depressing necessarily because of anything Bauby said (or how he said it) - though I will wholeheartedly say that Bauby said as much about life - and about death and suffering and how to deal with the latter two as optimistically as possible - I believe, in barely 100 pages (and did so only by blinking his left eye! - you just try communicating and writing anything - let alone what borders on the meaning of life - just by blinking your left eye!), as any existentialist, 19th century Russian masterpiece could say even though it pushed or exceeded a thousand pages. Bauby indelibly tapped into the primal human horror of having complete consciousness, and yet being so ill-equipped to communicate that consciousness - to connect it - to another human being as to take humanity's innate dread of loneliness and abandonment to levels perhaps previously unrealized in fiction or non-fiction. I've a dear daughter "locked-in" her own isolated interior world of autism, and knowing Bauby through his brief book, helps me understand and recognize more clearly that there's probably a lot more going on beneath the surface with my mostly non-verbal, uncommunicative daughter than I ever realized.The book, quite simply, is beautifully sad. Hopeful, and yet despairing. Inspiring, yes, but not "joyous," as the dumb publishing blurb on the back, falsely claims. Movie tie-in marketing no comprendo's.I don't recommend The Diving Bell And The Butterfly, but I think everyone should read it.more
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.more
This is a book written by a man with locked in syndrome. He communicates entirely with one eyelid. Before his stroke he was a editor of a woman's magazine - which comes through in the excellent qualitiy of his writting. He takes you on his dreams and into his world.more
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.more
An amazing feat of a book, which is remarkably well written and oozing with humour.I felt compelled to read it slowly, and had to keep pausing to take in the fact that every letter had been dictated through the blink of one eye.Everyone should take the time to read this book, Jean Dominique Bauby is an inspiration.more
Hmm. A marmite book - you either love it or loathe it. For me, the only interest lied in the story-tellers own position. His is a tale of suffering and overcoming the odds; it follows the template that such tales usually do, of the troubled normal life, the terrible accident (or illness), the struggle in hospital, the desire to give up, the strength that is discovered deep down. I've heard it so many times before; I hate being blunt, but this story wasn't news to me, and wasn't interesting enough for me to want to consider it 'one of the most important novels of the century.'more
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