Norman's Reviews > The Diving Bell and the Butterfly: A Memoir of Life in Death

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby
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Jan 10, 08

Read in January, 2008

These memoirs reveal glimpses of a man who thoroughly enjoyed the "'good things" in life, but who seems to have longed to enjoy it at a deeper level. For, although these vignettes recollect many warm experiences with lovers, family and friends, there also an unhidden wistfulness concerning his lack of taking on the more serious pursuits that he --perhaps-- desired most. However, in accomplishing this book in the physically destroyed state he was in, he ultimately did pursue that deeper subject matter. And, for the reader, the pain that comes through in-between all the joys may be the most powerful motivation for experiencing more joy in one's own life. Thus, although it's not likely the book Bauby wanted to write, it is a powerful lesson on an old subject that we all think of, but never enough.

The film of the same title by Julian Schnabel is a greater artistic achievement (not a greater moral achievement), paying tribute to a man who might have become a great artist himself had he lived longer. I highly recommend the book and the film together. They go hand-in-hand, each supporting and enhancing the other in conveying a very inspirational story.
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