Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Book 15 of 2012: The Diving-bell and the Butterfly

I heard about The Diving-Bell and the Butterfly many years ago. As part of our English GCSE work we looked at the play Whose Life Is It Anyway? and Jean-Dominique Bauby's autobiography came up in conversation. I didn't get to read it then though, the subject matter interested me, but I wasn't sure that it was the sort of thing that I really wanted to read (at the time).

Then, a couple of years ago, it was the book choice for the HTV book club, so I grabbed a copy from the local library. I immediately fell in love with the cover. It was truly beautiful, all shiny and sparkly, like a butterfly's wing. I've used the cover image from that copy because it's so much prettier than the copy I have now.
Last year The Book People advertised their Stranger Than Fiction set of books and the main books that sold it to me were The Perfect Storm and this book. I really wanted a copy of my own, I would have loved to have had the copy pictured above, but I'm happy with the one I got.

It's a truly incredible story, and it's quite horrifying to think about. Imagine being trapped in you own body, unable to move and your only method of communication is via blinking one eye (the other having been sewn shut for its own protection). It's a truly incredible story. Somehow all the more special because it's true, Bauby is telling his own story.

It's a very short book. I started reading it in the morning, and was a good portion of the way through it by the time I stopped. When I went to bed (rather late) I decided to read on and realised I was over half-way through it. So I just kept going, it's far too good to stop and can easily be read in one sitting. I ended it finishing it shortly after midnight.

I do rather selfishly wish that it was longer. It's a selfish thought of course, when you consider the effort that went into its creation. Bauby had to work with another person who would run through the letters of the alphabet and watch for his blink each time they reached the letter he wanted. It must have taken so much effort to get even a sentence out, I really can't complain about the fact that I wish there were another 160 pages to devour during my reading session.

It's a book which really speaks for itself, there's so much I could say for it, but I think it would be far better for you just to go out and read a copy yourself. You'll fall in love with it, you just can't help but love it. Bauby has the chance to be such a tragic character, but he isn't really, it's incredible how he's able to keep going and produce a fantastic book. Though you can feel his pain in the text, the way he's longing for his lost life and independence. It's a real shame that he never got the chance to make more of a recovery; he died shortly after the book's publication.
"Sweet Florence refuses to speak to me unless I first breathe noisily into the receiver which Sandrine holds glued to my ear. 'Are you there, Jean-Do?' she asks anxiously over the air.
And I have to admit that at times I do not know any more."
Pages 49 & 50

No comments:

Post a Comment

Let me know what you think. :-)