The Diving Bell and The Butterfly (Scaphandre et le papillon, Le) Jean-Dominque Bauby

I am amazed, totally amazed. Jean Dominque Bauby had the life that others dreamed of – Really GREAT job (Editor @ ELLE magazine), money, 3 beautiful children, friends, no cares in the world. Until…he had a massive stroke that caused him to be paralyzed, and cannot move a limb but has full mental comprehension. Cannot talk, or communicate to anyone, that is until a daring physiotherapist come up with a plan for him to be able to communicate with his one eye that is remaining, and a letter board that has the most frequently used letters in the alphabet. This is a short book – 139 pages in total.

I was totally enthralled after reading the prologue. At first I found it a bit mixed around with different periods in life and how is he is trying to come to terms with his CVA (Stroke) Depression, Being able to think, but not being able to communicate as he aptly put it “A Diving Bell and in my mind is a Butterfly” The images in the book he provokes are utterly amazing and take your breath away.

You want to feel sorry for him and how everything happened so fast, and yet when he wakes up, he is afraid and unaware of what has happened to him. So, he lays there in his hospital bed, with the sun coming in the windows and the wind from the sea drifting into his room. Alone, wanting to die since he thinks that there is nothing left to do but die. He has regrets as well, and wishes that he could go back and change who and what he has done wrong.

He then remembers that he was contracted to write a book – the female version of The Count of Monte Cristo. But, he instead writes about his life, his dreams while being in the hospital, and the butterfly inside his head, and the diving bell where sometimes he thinks he is drowning, thinking and not being able to communicate – with only a letter board and a secretary that is helping him in his quest.

I also had the opportunity to view the movie that it is made from the book right after reading it. I have to say, I enjoyed the visuals more so in the book then I did then watching the movie. Maybe it was because it was subtitled and had to focus on the words on the screen, since it was in French.

There was one scene in the movie when his secretary from the publisher takes him out on a boat for a sail on the ocean, and he has asked her to read from The Count of Monte Cristo ‘ ” “Alas, yes; the poor old gentleman is entirely helpless; the mind alone is still active in this human machine, and that is faint and flickering, like the light of a lamp about to expire.”

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone that would want to partake in this epic story.

Browse Inside this book

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Movie Information

Globe and Mail Movie Review

Chapters Indigo


Harper Collins Canada

The Count of Monte Cristo


One thought on “The Diving Bell and The Butterfly (Scaphandre et le papillon, Le) Jean-Dominque Bauby

  1. Pingback: End of The Year Post 2009 « Serendipitous Readings

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