The Diving-Bell and the Butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby

Published August 31, 2021

The Diving-Bell and the Butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby

Book info

  • Title The Diving-Bell and the Butterfly
  • Author Jean-Dominique Bauby
  • Year 1997
  • Genre Memoir

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.


I don’t know why it’s taken so long for me to read this, it’s an absolute classic, and for good reason. How beautiful this book is, obviously steeped in the tragedy of the author, and with that mystical aura that surrounds a book published so close to the writer’s death. But beyond that, it’s a gorgeous reminder of celebrating life while you can, seeing the light and the dark in various situations, and written so vividly you feel like you’re almost in the room. A wonderful book.

Rating: 5 / 5

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