The Diving-bell and the Butterfly

The Diving-bell and the Butterfly

Paperback Harper Perennial

By (author) Jean-Dominique Bauby

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  • Publisher: HarperPerennial
  • Format: Paperback | 144 pages
  • Dimensions: 130mm x 197mm x 12mm | 141g
  • Publication date: 7 May 2002
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 0007139845
  • ISBN 13: 9780007139842
  • Edition: Media tie-in
  • Edition statement: Film tie-in ed
  • Sales rank: 3,253

Product description

The diary of Jean-Dominique Bauby who, with his left eyelid (the only surviving muscle after a massive stroke) dictated a remarkable book about his experiences locked inside his body. A masterpiece and a bestseller in France, it is now a major motion picture directed by Julian Schnabel. On 8 December 1995, Jean-Dominique Bauby suffered a massive stroke and slipped into a coma. When he regained consciousness three weeks later, the only muscle left functioning was in his left eyelid although his mind remained as active and alert as it had ever been. He spent most of 1996 writing this book, letter by letter, blinking as an alphabet was repeatedly read out to him. 'The Diving-Bell and the Butterfly' was published in France on Thursday 6th March 1997. It was immediately hailed as a masterpiece. And then, three days later, he died. 'The Diving-Bell and the Butterfly', which records Bauby's lonely existence, is probably the most remarkable book about the triumph of the human spirit, the ability to invent a life for oneself in the most appalling of circumstances, that you will ever read. It has now been made into a captivating film, directed by Julian Schnabel and starring Mathieu Amalric, which was the winner of the award for Best Director at Cannes and nominated for the Palm d'Or.

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Author information

Jean-Dominique Bauby was born in Paris in 1952. He was the editor-in-chief of French 'Elle'. In 1996 he set up ALIS (Association du Locked-In Syndrome). He died on 9 March 1997.

Review quote

'The most remarkable memoir of our time.' Cynthia Ozick 'Read this book and fall back in love with life.' Edmund White 'A staggering piece of work. It represents an almost inconceivable act of generosity, the gift of the mind and the spirit for which writing was designed.' A. L. Kennedy 'One of the great books of the century.' Financial Times 'Everyone in the country should own at least one copy.' Guardian 'We listen, because what he has to say goes to the core of what it means to be human.' Robert McCrum, Observer 'The most extraordinary book of the year.' Daily Telegraph 'Life-enhancing and devastating in equal measure - everyone should read it.' Gloss magazine

Flap copy

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. "From the Trade Paperback edition.