The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

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The Diving Bell and the Butterfly  
Image:Jean-Dominique Bauby.jpg
Author Jean-Dominique Bauby
Country France
Language French
Genre(s) Autobiography, Memoir
Publication date March 6, 1997
Pages 139

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly is a translation of the French memoir Le scaphandre et le papillon by journalist Jean-Dominique Bauby. It describes what his life is like after suffering a massive stroke that left him with a condition called locked-in syndrome. It also details what his life was like before the stroke.

On December 8, 1995, Bauby, the editor-in-chief of Elle magazine, suffered a stroke and lapsed into a coma. He awoke 20 days later, mentally aware of his surroundings but physically paralyzed with the exception of some movement in his head and eyes (one of which had to be sewn up due to an irrigation problem). The entire book was written by Bauby blinking his left eyelid, which took ten months (four hours a day). A transcriber repeatedly recited a French language frequency-ordered alphabet (E, S, A, R, I, N, T, U, L, etc.), until Bauby blinked to choose the next letter. The book took about 200,000 blinks to write and an average word took approximately two minutes. The book also chronicles everyday events for a person with locked-in syndrome. These events include playing at the beach with his family, getting a bath, and meeting visitors.

The French edition of the book was published in March 1997. It received excellent reviews, sold 150,000 copies in the first week, and went on to become a number one bestseller across Europe. Bauby died of pneumonia two days after the book was published in French.[1][2]

[edit] Film adaptation

The book has been adapted into a feature film of the same name, directed by Julian Schnabel, written by Ronald Harwood and starring Mathieu Amalric as Bauby. While Bauby was still alive, French director Jean-Jacques Beineix made a 25-minute film, "Assigné à résidence" (or "House Arrest"), that captured Bauby in his paralysed state, and the process of the book's composition.[3]

[edit] References

  1. ^ Thomas, Rebecca. Diving Bell movie's fly-away success, BBC, February 8, 2008. Accessed June 5, 2008.
  2. ^ "In the Blink of an Eye", by Thomas Mallon, review of The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, New York Times, June 15, 1997. Retrieved April 8, 2008.
  3. ^ "Cargo Films, Société de J-J Beineix" (in French). Retrieved on 2008-04-24. 

[edit] External links

Reviews of The Diving Bell and the Butterfly:

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