The bell and the butterfly book
The Diving-Bell and the Butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby | WaterstonesIn , Jean-Dominique Bauby was the editor-in-chief of French Elle, the father of two young childen, a year-old man known and loved for his wit, his style, and his impassioned approach to life. By the end of the year he was also the victim of a rare kind of stroke to the brainstem. After 20 days in a coma, Bauby awoke into a body which had all but stopped working: only his left eye functioned, allowing him to see and, by blinking it, to make clear that his mind was unimpaired. Almost miraculously, he was soon able to express himself in the richest detail: dictating a word at a time, blinking to select each letter as the alphabet was recited to him slowly, over and over again. In the same way, he was able eventually to compose this book. The Butterfly is his mind that flutters about his past and his present, something that he delights in occupying, despite the betrayal of his body.
The reality behind The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
You would have to have a hard heart to watch Julian Schnabel's new film, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly , without at least coming close to shedding a few tears. It tells the remarkable story of Jean-Dominique Bauby, the glamorous editor-in-chief of French Elle, left paralysed apart from one blinking, roving eye following a catastrophic illness. Disaster strikes in December Bauby leans back on his luxury headrest, eyes wide with fear, mouth twisting grossly. He has had a cerebrovascular seizure, a type of stroke, which puts him in a coma for three weeks, and from which he emerges unable to talk, move or perform any of the basic functions of life. His children - he is given three in the film, though in reality he had just two - are shown struggling to behave normally.
W rapped up in several sweaters against the chill of a wintry day in Paris, Florence Ben Sadoun sits in a bohemian tea shop near the Luxembourg Gardens. In front of her is a pot of strong coffee and several notebooks scrawled with her work. I can work here, peacefully. Abruptly the peace is broken when a teenage band begins to warm up, attempting - badly - to play scratchy French folk music. Ben Sadoun, who has an open face, with dark eyes, covers her ears, cringes, apologises for the noise, and sinks back into the cushions, wrapping a shawl around herself. She looks smaller than she really is, and vulnerable.