Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Diving Bell and The Butterfly

Good morning! I hope you are well, we are digging out this morning; after a long night of high winds and snow we have about 8 inches. Sadly we will not be having a snow day, or at least I will not be. 

If you are lucky enough to have a snow day or would like to read an excellent book, I highly recommend The Diving Bell and the Butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby.

The book is about Jean-Dominique Bauby, a forty-three year old father of two young children, world traveler and editor at French Elle who suffers a massive stroke in 1995.  After 20 days in a coma he wakes to find that he has "locked-in syndrome", a state of paralysis in which a person's mind functions while their body is frozen . 

 He is permanently paralyzed except for his left eye and is "exiled, paralyzed, mute, half deaf, deprived of all pleasures, and reduced to the existence of a jellyfish," but inside of his mind he was still as free as a butterfly. 

What makes the book remarkable aside from Bauby's humor, intelligence, perseverance and wit is the fact the the entire book was written with the blink of an eye. The book took ten months, four hours a day, and approximately 200,000 blinks of the eye. 

 Bauby with the help of a physical therapist learned partner assisted scanning as a  way to communicate with family and friends. In order to write this book Bauby dictated letter by letter to an assistant who recited to him the letters of the French alphabet which were written on a chart. The assistant would repetitively read each letter and when they got to the correct letter Bauby would blink his left eye, then they would continue on until the word was spelled and then a paragraph and finally this 122 page book.

This book is heart wrenching, depressing, funny and more and yet reminds us that even at the worst of times there is beauty in the simple pleasures of everyday life. It is one of the top 10 books I have read in my life. 

If you have read The Diving Bell and The Butterfly I would love to know what you thought. 

Enjoy your day! Be safe in the storm!


  1. Wow sounds like a powerful book. I will add it to my list, sounds like something I would like to read. I have quite a line of books waiting to be read but am determined to get through each and every one! Enjoy the snow!

  2. Good morning Elizabeth! I have read this and it is excellent - I highly recommend it. Sorry you didn't get a snow day but I hope you enjoy it any way! xoxoxo

  3. Oh wow....the human spirit never fails to amaze me...tremendous...

    And you did get snow!!! :))))


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