Laysee's Reviews > The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby
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's review
Jan 23, 2011

really liked it
Read in January, 2010

Would you write a memoir if all that was left of your ability to communicate with the world was a nod or a wink? Jean-Dominique Bauby did. Letter by letter, the Editor-in-Chief of French Elle, dictated his life story despite being totally incapacitated by “locked in syndrome” following a stroke. The diving bell and the butterfly are powerful metaphors that bespeak the triumph of the human mind over physical disability of the highest order.

This is one of the most moving books I’ve read this year. Bauby’s cruel “imprisonment” was juxtaposed against the insuppressible vitality of his young children and the normality of routines that typified an ordinary work day. His turnip like existence did not blunt his awareness of how visitors to his hospital ward must feel – some “gasping for air” as it were and others simply turning tail and fleeing. The anguish of seeing a loved one in pain was captured without sentimentality. There was also bitter sweetness in the comfort Bauby derived from simmering memories of yesteryears.

It is easy to read this book in one seating, but it is probably best enjoyed a chapter at a time. Some lines are so hauntingly beautiful you need to read them again. Powerful and beautifully written book.
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01/11/2017 marked as: read

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