Saint-Exupéry (Magill Book Reviews)
SAINT-EXUPERY is a sensitive and readable biography of the author of WIND, SAND, AND STARS (1939) and THE LITTLE PRINCE (1943). Stacy Schiff’s first book is an excellent re- creation of the French aviator and his times.
Antoine de Saint-Exupery, born in 1900, was the scion of an aristocratic family. His father died when he was three, leaving the family in financial difficulties. Although he began writing plays and poems as a child, he was an indifferent student. He failed to obtain a commission in the French navy, failed at selling trucks, failed in his first and most of his subsequent romantic endeavors. Nevertheless, he developed a passion for airplanes as a young boy and learned to fly while in the military. In 1926, he joined the foremost French airmail service, first in North Africa and then in South America.
Using his flying experiences, Saint-Exupery blended brilliant writing with tales of adventure, courage, and perseverance in several highly acclaimed works: SOUTHERN MAIL (1933), NIGHT FLIGHT (1932), WIND, SAND, AND STARS, FLIGHT TO ARRAS (1942), and most lastingly for his fame, THE LITTLE PRINCE, his story of lost childhood. He seemingly knew everyone from Andre Gide to Charles Lindbergh, was a popular companion, enjoyed food, wine, women, song, and performing card tricks, but Schiff’s Saint-Ex, as he was sometimes called, remained partially at odds with adult life.
Finding it difficult to take sides in the polarized...
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Saint-Exupéry (Magill's Literary Annual 1991-2005)
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, possibly the most popular French writer of the twentieth century, was a study in contradictions. He was born into an aristocratic family in 1900, but his father’s death when he was three left the family in difficult financial circumstances. Because of his background, he had entree into the upper reaches of French society, but he was most at home among those who shared his love of flying. Attractive to women, his marriage was unsatisfactory. An archetypal Frenchman who refused to learn English, he preferred the deserts of Africa and the lonely landscapes of South America. His single ruling passion was in flying, and while he was brave, he could be foolhardy—a superb pilot who was also extremely careless. He was the author of a number of literary works, but the one he was most proud of was published only after his death and is considered a failure. The book that has maintained the fame of the noted French author was written in New York City, and is the story of a young boy from another planet in love with a rose. Perhaps that is the explanation of Saint-Ex, as he was sometimes called. In many ways he remained a child, never entirely compatible with adulthood and its society. Saint-Exupéry, nicknamed the “Sun King” as a boy because of his golden curls, is the “little prince” of his famous fable. He is also the aviator-narrator of the story.
Stacy Schiff has written a brilliant biography of Saint-Exupéry. Her approach...
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