and the Butterfly
by: 4th Estate 139 pp. Paperback £5.99.
by Linda Dangoor-Khalastchi
suffering a massive heart-attack, Jean-Dominique Bauby should
have died instantly but instead he, the editor-in-chief of
French Elle magazine and the father of two young children,
fell into a deep and long coma. He awoke, 7 weeks later, to
find himself totally paralysed and speechless, with his mind,
however, completely intact. An imprisoned soul inside an inert
body, with the exception of the left eyelid which he could
move. This was to become his only means of communication with
the outside world. The medical body considered him a vegetable
whose days were counted, but his family and friends never
failed him, constantly talking to him and surrounding him
speech therapist at the hospital devised an ingenious system
with the letters of the alphabet with which Bauby could communicate.
It consisted of him blinking at every appropriate letter pronounced
and thus, with infinite patience, a word would be constructed
and then a phrase and then a sentence.
by letter is how the Diving-Bell and the Butterfly was written.
It is not only a staggering achievement, but a work of surpassing
beauty, unsentimental and yet very moving and funny. A lesson
of courage and humility to all of us.
book took almost 16 months to write. Jean Dominique-Bauby
died soon after its completion.
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