The Diving-Bell and the Butterfly

Jean-Dominique Bauby

On 8 December 1995, Jean-Dominique Bauby suffered a massive stroke and slipped into a coma. When he regained consciousness three weeks later, the only muscle left functioning was in his left eyelid although his mind remained as active and alert as it had ever been. He spent most of 1996 writing this book, letter by letter, blinking as an alphabet was repeatedly read out to him. The Diving-Bell and the Butterfly was published in France on Thursday 6th March 1997. It was immediately hailed as a masterpiece. And then, three days later, he died.

The Diving-Bell and the Butterfly, which records Bauby’s lonely existence, is probably the most remarkable book about the triumph of the human spirit, the ability to invent a life for oneself in the most appalling of circumstances, that you will ever read