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The Diving-Bell & the Butterfly

I bought The Diving-Bell & the Butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby in a charity store when I was in London, the title catching my eye because I was aware that a movie had been made of it (although I was unaware what it was about).

This brief book is the true autobiographical memoir of Jean-Dominique Bauby, the previous editor-in-chief of French Elle that suffered a major stroke that left him fully conscious, but unable to move at all – a sufferer of what is known as locked-in syndrome. With time he recovered some minimal movement – this book was painstakingly dictated, letter-by-letter, by having the alphabet read to him, and him blinking when the desired letter was reached.

This book is not a story in the usual sense, but rather an incredibly lucid glimpse into what must certainly be one of the worst conditions a human being can suffer from. In spite of this difficulty, Bauby’s writing is elegant, beautiful and shows an amazing sense of internal calm and contentment.

“My cocoon becomes less oppressive, and my mind takes flight like a butterfly. There is so much to do. You can wander off in space or in time, set out for Tierra del Fuego or for King Midas’ court.

“You can visit the woman you love, slide down beside her and stroke her still-sleeping face. You can build castles in Spain, steal the Golden Fleece, discover Atlantis, realise your childhood dreams and adult ambitions.”

One Comment

  1. Posted 2 Nov ’09 at 10:12 am | Permalink

    ooh ek wil dit ook nog lees!

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