The Diving-Bell and the Butterfly

The Diving-Bell and the Butterfly

Jean-Dominique Bauby

‘Locked-in syndrome: paralysed from head to toe, the patient, his mind intact, is imprisoned inside his own body, unable to speak or move. In my case, blinking my left eyelid is my only means of communication.’

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. The acclaimed 2007 film adaptation, directed by Julian Schnabel, won Best Director at Cannes and was nominated for the Palme d’Or.

Reviews of The Diving-Bell and the Butterfly

    • ‘The most remarkable memoir of our time.’ Cynthia Ozick
    • ‘Read this book and fall back in love with life.’ Edmund White
    • ‘A staggering piece of work. It represents an almost inconceivable act of generosity, the gift of the mind and the spirit for which writing was designed.’ A. L. Kennedy
    • ‘One of the great books of the century.’ Financial Times
    • ‘Everyone in the country should own at least one copy.’ Guardian
    • ‘We listen, because what he has to say goes to the core of what it means to be human.’ Robert McCrum, Observer
    • ‘The most extraordinary book of the year.’ Daily Telegraph
    • ‘Life-enhancing and devastating in equal measure – everyone should read it.’ Gloss magazine