Category: Jean-Dominique Bauby

book review – The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

The way things usually work is that you read the book then go to see the film and spend the rest of the evening grumbling about how the printed word was so much superior. But with this book it was the film that drove me to pick up the novella.

The story of Jean-Dominique Bauby’s last few months after he slipped into a state that left him unable to use anything to communicate other than his left eyelid is not only inspirational but a testament to the power of the imagination.

The film is faithful to the book and both have the ability to move you as a person who could have folded in on themselves completely allows his mind to live beyond the confines of his body and the hospital.

The reason why this was an international nest seller is partly because the story inspires such interest but also because once you are listening to the voice it reminds you of how much gets taken for granted and how little we all live, despite being able bodied and free of movement.

Having locked-in syndrome following a massive stroke leaves him feeling as if he is in a diving bell when his mind still has the ability to soar and fly like a butterfly.

His imagination allows him not only to give nicknames to everyone around him and humanise a very difficult situation but also conjure up ghosts of the past with his imagination bringing the Empress who established the hospital back to life.

What makes this even more poignant is the life he had before the stroke. As editor in chief of Elle he travelled the world, enjoyed the luxuries of moving in social circles that included film stars and musicians and he was about to get his hands on the car of his dreams.

Although a short book it leaves you thinking and makes you question the way you live your life, why we all waste so much time chasing nonsense and just how brave we would be in a similar situation.

When you realise the book was dictated through the blinking of an eye it also makes you realise just how precious and powerful words on a page can be.

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book review – The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

The way things usually work is that you read the book then go to see the film and spend the rest of the evening grumbling about how the printed word was so much superior. But with this book it was the film that drove me to pick up the novella.

The story of Jean-Dominique Bauby’s last few months after he slipped into a state that left him unable to use anything to communicate other than his left eyelid is not only inspirational but a testament to the power of the imagination.

The film is faithful to the book and both have the ability to move you as a person who could have folded in on themselves completely allows his mind to live beyond the confines of his body and the hospital.

The reason why this was an international nest seller is partly because the story inspires such interest but also because once you are listening to the voice it reminds you of how much gets taken for granted and how little we all live, despite being able bodied and free of movement.

Having locked-in syndrome following a massive stroke leaves him feeling as if he is in a diving bell when his mind still has the ability to soar and fly like a butterfly.

His imagination allows him not only to give nicknames to everyone around him and humanise a very difficult situation but also conjure up ghosts of the past with his imagination bringing the Empress who established the hospital back to life.

What makes this even more poignant is the life he had before the stroke. As editor in chief of Elle he travelled the world, enjoyed the luxuries of moving in social circles that included film stars and musicians and he was about to get his hands on the car of his dreams.

Although a short book it leaves you thinking and makes you question the way you live your life, why we all waste so much time chasing nonsense and just how brave we would be in a similar situation.

When you realise the book was dictated through the blinking of an eye it also makes you realise just how precious and powerful words on a page can be.

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly – post II

If there is one thing that I will take away from this book it will be to understand the power of the imagination. Even locked into his body he manages to fly away to memories and undiscovered countries. What helps him get there is an imagination that has been fuelled by trips abroad and his experiences but also by literature.

The Count of Monte Cristo is a reference but this is something that increasingly is informed by his own view of the world and the scenes where he brings back the moment when the founder of the hospital must have first arrived. The weaving of historical fact with imagination and dreams really works well. Plus there is the sadness that is of course throughout in the background and when he recalls the moment when he fell into a coma it is left close to the last. In a way had the book opened with that it would have been much more self-pitying tone.

This is a short read but something that once read is unlikely to be ever forgotten.

A review soon…