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...
(The entire section is 585 words.)
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,...
(The entire section is 548 words.)