The Diving Bell and the Butterfly by Jean – Dominique Bauby

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
‘Locked-in syndrome: paralysed from head to toe, the patient, his mind intact, is imprisoned inside his own body, unable to speak or move. In my case, blinking my left eyelid is my only means of communication.’

In December 1995, Jean-Dominique Bauby, editor-in-chief of French ‘Elle’ and the father of two young children, suffered a massive stroke and found himself paralysed and speechless, but entirely conscious, trapped by what doctors call ‘locked-in syndrome’. Using his only functioning muscle – his left eyelid – he began dictating this remarkable story, painstakingly spelling it out letter by letter.

His book offers a haunting, harrowing look inside the cruel prison of locked-in syndrome, but it is also a triumph of the human spirit.

This book was written by Jean Dominique Bauby not long before he passed away. After a tragic stroke left him paralysed, the protagonist reflects on his life, his family, his past and his future. If I’m being honest, not a lot occurs in this book. Despite this, it is a really moving and raw piece of prose. I could sense the protagonist’s anger, frustration and understanding. I tried to understand the physical exile he felt. His body had let him down. Psychologically, the protagonist’s inability to communicate must have been unbelievably difficult. This book truly shows how a few minutes can change your life. It was hard to read (emotionally speaking) and I would definitely recommend it as it’s a great book. 
My Rating – 4/5 stars

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