Antoine de Saint-Exupéry Biography

Biography (Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

ph_0111207112-Saint_Exupery.jpgAntoine de Saint-Exupéry Published by Salem Press, Inc.

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (sahn-tayg-zew-pay-ree), born in Lyons, France, on June 29, 1900, joined the French Army Air Force in 1921. After serving as a pilot, he left the Air Force in 1926 and became a commercial pilot, flying routes from France to West Africa and South America. At the same time, he began to write about flying, producing a novel, Southern Mail, in which a young French aristocrat, full of impossibly romantic notions, faces the realities of life and an unhappy love affair through the discipline of flying. In his next novel, Night Flight, Saint-Exupéry further emphasized the importance of flying by establishing a conflict between the questlike dangerous missions that characterized night flying and the sheltered comforts of home and domesticity. These novels showed his mastery of a rich, dense, powerfully poetic style well-suited to conveying his thoughts about flying and humankind.

For several years during the mid-1930’s, Saint-Exupéry had difficulty getting a job flying. He became a foreign correspondent, covering the 1935 May Day celebration in Moscow, the 1936 start of the Spanish Civil War, for L’Intransigeant, and the 1937 siege of Madrid for Paris-Soir. These experiences deepened both his political and religious interest so that by the time he began to write Wind, Sand, and Stars he had switched from the novel to an autobiographical essay form. André Gide, who was a strong admirer...

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Antoine de Saint-Exupéry Biography (Survey of Novels and Novellas)

Scion of an old, distinguished, and noble Limousin family, Antoine-Marie-Roger de Saint-Exupéry was born in Lyons on June 29, 1900. It might reasonably be said of him, and without insult, that he was surely among the most successful failures of his generation, having experienced severe setbacks in most of his attempted ventures, including aviation. Only his writing career appears to have developed and prospered without undue incident, yet few who knew him in his youth would have foreseen that he would become a writer. A notoriously poor student, Saint-Exupéry failed his entrance examination to the French École Navale (naval academy) and tried thereafter to apply himself to architecture, as he had earlier attempted music. Tempted by aviation ever since his first flight, as a passenger at about the age of twelve, “Saint-Ex” had the good fortune to emerge from his required military service some ten years later as a pilot-officer. Dissuaded from a career in aviation by the family of the woman to whom he was then betrothed, Saint-Exupéry obligingly turned to office work, spending most of his free time in the air. By 1925, he had begun to write about aviation for trade periodicals; the following year, he was engaged by Latécoère’s aviation company, initially as a test pilot and soon thereafter to fly the mail between France and its African colonies.

Following the success of Southern Mail, which is based on his African experiences,...

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Antoine de Saint-Exupéry Biography (Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Antoine Jean-Baptiste Marie Roger de Saint-Exupéry (sahn-tayg-zew-pay-REE) was born on June 29, 1900, in Lyon, France, the third of five children in an aristocratic family. His father died of a stroke when Saint-Exupéry was only three, and his mother moved the family to Le Mans. Saint-Exupéry, known as Saint-Ex, led a happy childhood. He was surrounded by many relatives and often spent his summer vacations with his family at their chateau in Saint-Maurice-de-Remens.

Saint-Exupéry went to Jesuit schools and to a Catholic boarding school in Switzerland. His dream was to become an officer in the navy, and from 1917 to 1919 he attended the naval preparatory schools École Bossuet and Lycée Saint-Louis. After failing his final exam, he went on to attend the École des Beaux-Arts to study architecture. The year 1921 was a turning point in his life as he started his military service in the Second Regiment of Chasseurs and went to Strasbourg to train as a pilot. He earned his license in a year, and though he was offered a position in the air force, he turned it down because of the objections of his fiancé’s family. Eventually, the engagement was broken off, and he started writing and holding several jobs, including that of a bookkeeper and an automobile salesman.

His first publication was a short story, “L’Aviateur” (the aviator), which appeared in the magazine Le Navire d’Argent in 1926. Thus began many of Saint-Exupéry’s writings on flying—a merging of two of his greatest passions in life. At the time, aviation was relatively new and still very dangerous. The technology was basic, and many pilots relied on intuition. Saint-Exupéry, however, was drawn to the adventure and beauty of flight, which he depicted in many of his works.

Saint-Exupéry became a frontiersman of the sky. He reveled in flying open-cockpit planes and loved the freedom and solitude of being in the air. For three years, he worked as a pilot for Aéropostale, a French commercial airline that flew mail. He traveled between Toulouse and Dakar, helping to establish air routes across the African desert. He became the director of Cape Juby airfield in Rio de Oro in the Sahara. He had many accidents, encountering near death experiences in the desert. It was the isolation of the Sahara that inspired his later depictions of the desert in such works as Le Petit Prince...

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Antoine de Saint-Exupéry Biography (Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s lyrical and meditative writings, inspired by his experiences as a mail pilot, reveal his idealistic view of humankind’s potential. His characters, which sometimes include himself as the narrator, journey through disillusionment and isolation to find transcendence in companionship and devotion to duty.