Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)

*Buenos Aires

*Buenos Aires. Capital city of Argentina, whose offices of the airmail service are the nerve center of air operations and of the central drama of the narrative. These offices are the command post from which Rivière, the operations chief, wages a war against the darkness of night, severe weather, and other hazards to aviation. In this heroic struggle, Rivière stations himself in Buenos Aires, the nerve center of an epic struggle. He feels that he must do away with the mystery, symbolized by such natural elements as the night, the ocean, the vast forces that constantly threaten to overwhelm and defeat humans. This mission is a moral one that challenges him to command events rather than be commanded by them. To do so is to become a creator of humanity’s future. This struggle imbues this outpost of humanity’s progress with universal significance, and Argentina symbolizes one of the last frontiers of human endeavor.

Night sky

Night sky. Saint-Exupéry’s metaphors repeatedly depict the night sky as an ocean traversed by the pilots in their airplanes, ships heading to port and weathering the storms. The airmail pilots are depicted as sea divers who descend to the sea floor in search of the sea’s mysteries, then make their way back to the surface, but the principal arena of their battle is the night sky above South America, symbol of humanity’s reach into the unknown.

In the sea of...

(The entire section is 596 words.)

Literary Techniques

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

Of the three works of Saint-Exupery considered. Night Flight is the only work that has the characteristics of a true novel, although...

(The entire section is 225 words.)

Literary Precedents

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

More than any other work, Night Flight shows the influence of Nietzsche, for whom Saint-Exupery claimed great admiration. The...

(The entire section is 89 words.)


(Great Characters in Literature)

Cate, Curtis. Antoine de Saint-Exupéry: His Life and Times. New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1970. Born in France and educated in England and America, Cate wrote the first major biography of Saint-Exupéry in English. The author comments extensively on the airman’s literary works.

Migeo, Marcel. Saint-Exupéry. Translated by Herma Briffault. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1960. Shortly after the end of World War II, in the course of researching the life of Saint-Exupéry, the author interviewed Didier Daurat, the inspiration for Rivière.

Rumbold, Richard, and Lady Margaret Stewart. The Winged Life: A Portrait of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Poet and Airman. New York: David McKay, 1953. Written by a World War II Royal Air Force pilot and the daughter of a former secretary of air in the British cabinet, the work is a sympathetic study of the famous French pilot.

Schiff, Stacy. Saint-Exupéry: A Biography. New York: Knopf, 1994. This well-written biography explores the connection between Saint-Exupéry the pilot and Saint-Exupéry the writer. It includes a comprehensive discussion of the circumstances and influences surrounding Night Flight.

Smith, Maxwell A. Knight of the Air. London: Cassell, 1959. The author of this work concentrates not only on Saint-Exupéry’s life but also, more specifically, on his literary works, including an excellent analysis of Night Flight.