I’ve been mulling this one over for a few days. It’s a very short book; and a fast read. But it definitely stays with you.
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly is a memoir of the mind. It’s by Jean-Dominique Bauby who, at the age of 43, suffered a stroke which left him with locked-in syndrome.
Basically that means he couldn’t move, but his mind was fine.
He dictated the book through the only means he had – his left eyelid.
That in itself is remarkable, but the book itself is even moreso.
It’s beautiful, haunting and wistful all at once.
Bauby – who died in 1996 two days after the book was published in France – is a compelling narrator. His voice is so strong throughout that I had to remind myself he was gone – and had been for a long time.
There’s a lot of stream of consciousness in Butterfly, but it all comes together.
Bauby starts with waking from a coma in hospital and ends with the day it happened.
In between is a remarkable journey into the deepest recesses of someone’s mind.
All Bauby has left to him are his thoughts, making The Diving Bell and the Butterfly a profound, and profoundly moving read.
I’m looking forward to the movie.