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Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Review: WIND, SAND AND STARS by Antoine de Saint-Exupery




















Title: Wind, Sand and Stars

Author: Antoine de Saint-Exupéry; translated from the French by Lewis Galantière
Pub info: Harcourt, 2009 (orig. 1939); 229 pp
Genre: adventure/memoir; appropriate for any age, written for adults

The writer who enchanted the world with his Little Prince also penned this National Book Award-winner about his adventures in the air.

Goodreads summary:
Recipient of the Grand Prix of the Académie Française, Wind, Sand and Stars captures the grandeur, danger, and isolation of flight. Its exciting account of air adventure, combined with lyrical prose and the spirit of a philosopher, makes it one of the most popular works ever written about flying.  
Status: finished 6/30/14

My impressions:
As much as I love this author and admire this book, I'll take issue a bit with the Goodreads summary above. Saint-Exupéry does write about flying, but this is a book about life--not his life, but Life with a capital L. He was a man of deep thoughts, and given the times he lived in (1900-1944), he thought a lot about war and the nature of human beings. Wind, Sand and Stars is a gorgeous book, artfully written, about flying, a crash in the desert, and visits to Franco's Spain. It's quiet and contemplative--even the parts about surviving in the desert--but very moving.

As I say, there's not all that much about flying--certainly nothing highly technical. I recently took  my first flight lesson in the hopes of eventually securing my private pilot license, and reading this book has the feel of flight--something quiet, above the clouds, when so much is going on below. I've never read this in the original French, but I think Galantière captures Saint-Exupéry's spirit very well. Highly recommended.

About Antoine de Saint-Exupéry:
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry was born in Lyons, France, in 1900 and was a pioneer in the field of aviation. He signed up as an airmail pilot for Aéropostale in 1926, flying a route between Toulouse and (then French-occupied) Dakar. He was flying reconnaissance during World War II when his plane disappeared off the coast of Marseille, in 1944. His writings include Le Petit Prince (The Little Prince), a book for children and adults, as well as Vol de nuit (Night Flight) and Pilote de guerre (Flight to Arras). His writings received many awards, including the National Book Award (U.S.), the Prix Fémina, and the Grand Prix du roman de l'Académie Française (both the latter, France).



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2 comments:

  1. I had never heard of this book until I saw it here. Thanks for the review.

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    Replies
    1. You're welcome, Rosi. Next I want to read his NIGHT FLIGHT.

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