The Diving Bell and The Butterfly: A Memoir of Life in Death Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of The Diving Bell and The Butterfly: A Memoir of Life in Death

Jean-Dominique Bauby, editor-in-chief of Elle magazine, was a mere 43 when he suffered a stoke, which resulted in incredible damage to his brain stem. His stroke propelled him into a coma which lasted several weeks. Upon awakening from the coma, he learned that he was the victim of a very rare disorder called locked in syndrome, or LIS. The only part of his body which he could move was one of his eyelids. Although his mind was fully functional, he could not speak at all. With the aid of a therapist, he was able to structure a code of communicating with the movement of his eyelid, while the therapist pointed to the alphabet. As his only means of communicating, it was so painstaking slow, yet it was his vital link to those he loved.
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This memoir is a tale of charm, wit, and beauty. The passions expressed were poignant, with the author's mind reliving his past in order to contain his sanity in the present. His descriptives were superb - his strength inspiring. To have the world in the palm of your hand on one day and the next day, you are virtually a prisoner, locked inside your own body. His despair was masked with humor and wit and never once did he feel sorry for himself to the point of anguish. Would I have been as courageous as he in the same situation?

This is quick read, divided into numerous chapters, each a little tale in its own. You will laugh and you will cry - as you realize that life as you know it can be taken from you in a heartbeat and you will be forever changed. His beauty is expressed through his prose as the reader can see his mind is totally intact, but alas, it is his body that binds him. The reader's compassion is elevated as Jean-Dominique's sensitivity and remarkable spirit shines though, masking the sadness of the knowledge of death slowly making its way to his door. His legacy is contained in the beauty of his words.

An excellent book that will tug at your heart. It will also heighten your sensitivity to the fact that despite his disabilities, he still needed the comfort and love of friends and family. The realization that some "friends" could not accept his condition and chose not to visit touched me deeply. He needed the love and the beauty of friends around him more than ever. A deeply moving book which will open your heart and give you a new perspective on living life to the fullest.

The review of this Book prepared by Judith E. Pavluvcik

Chapter Analysis of The Diving Bell and The Butterfly: A Memoir of Life in Death

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Plot & Themes

Phys disability/mental struggle?    -   Yes Struggle with    -   physical disability/sickness Period of greatest activity?    -   1950+

Subject of Biography

Gender    -   Male Profession/status:    -   journalist Ethnicity    -   White Nationality    -   French


How much descriptions of surroundings?    -   8 () Europe    -   Yes European country:    -   France Century:    -   1980's-Present

Writing Style

Book makes you feel?    -   thoughtful If this is a kid's book:    -   Age 16-Adult Pictures/Illustrations?    -   None How much dialogue in bio?    -   significantly more dialog than descript How much of bio focuses on most famous period of life?    -   0-25% of book

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Jean-Dominique Bauby Books Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
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