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The Diving-bell and the Butterfly
by Jean-Dominique Bauby

Published: 2002-05-07
Paperback : 144 pages
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15 clubs reading this now
3 members have read this book
Recommended to book clubs by 2 of 2 members
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 ...
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Introduction

(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.

Editorial Review

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Excerpt

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Discussion Questions

Suggested by Members

As Jean noticed the comparisons to his new life and the book he wanted to write (based on the Story - The Count of Monte Cristo) what insight could he add to the quote at the end of The Count of Monte Cristo "There is neither happiness nor misery in the
(cont) world; there is only the comparison of one state with another, nothing more. He who has felt the deepest grief is best able to experience supreme happiness." ? Which of the 5 senses brought him the most joy?
Except for his son, women seemed to have the most important roles in his new life, Do you think this is different than his pre-LIS life? How did people see him compared to how he saw himself?
by [email protected] (see profile) 09/27/10

Notes From the Author to the Bookclub

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Book Club Recommendations

We attempted to watch the movie at our meeting, it didn't go well, we abandoned that ship about 20 minutes in. Good discussion though.
by itsColleen (see profile) 03/07/11

Member Reviews

Overall rating:
 
 
  "The Diving Bell & the Butterfly"by itsColleen (see profile) 03/07/11

Beautifully written story of a man with locked-in syndrome. Equally uplifting and realistic in his portrayal of being locked in, Bauby's prose is an inspiration in itself. The way he weaves stories and... (read more)

 
  "The Diving-bell and the Butterfly"by [email protected] (see profile) 09/27/10

I suggest you watch the movie AFTER reading the book. The book will add a lightness to a very heavy story. We forget we see ourselves differently than others see us, his story reminds me of that. Where... (read more)

 
  "How do you deal with an active mind locked in a body that no longer functions? Bauby, a stroke victim deals with his situation with courage, insight, and acceptance."by Beige (see profile) 06/16/08

The subject matter did not interest me, and depressed me.

 
  "Interesting book and we had a good discussion about it."by lldavidson1 (see profile) 03/04/08

Very short read and the discussion revolved more around the intriguing nature of locked in syndrome.

 
  "Heartbreaking, mesmerizing & enchanting"by julialily (see profile) 01/31/08

An extremely short novel but packed with power. Power of the human spirit and the will to live. It will make you think about simple things like eating, bathing, talking and how precious such simple things... (read more)

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