(Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Wind, Sand, and Stars is a collection of interconnected essays reflecting on Saint-Exupéry’s experiences as an airmail pilot. It is drawn mostly from the period of his life when he made frequent trips across the Sahara and the Andes. The book won the French Academy’s Grand Prix du Roman and the National Book Award in the United States.

Saint-Exupéry portrays the world of flying through descriptions and reflections on the craft of aviation, the equipment, the devotion of the pilots, and the forces of nature to which these men of flight are subject. These musings reveal the humanistic philosophy of Saint-Exupéry, depicting the extraordinary courage and dedication required of the men to embark on these treacherous journeys.

Several incidents are recorded in this account, the most central of which is the plane crash of 1935, when Saint-Exupéry and his navigator, André Prévot, set off to break the record for the fastest flight from Paris to Saigon. They crash in the Libyan desert, somewhere between Benghazi and Cairo, with barely any food and water. The men wander aimlessly in the desert, their bodies quickly succumbing to dehydration. They start to see mirages and then have even wilder hallucinations. They see visions of water and of rescue, and not until three days later are they found by the Bedouins, who give them water and take them by camel to a Swiss engineer’s factory in the desert. The men are then transported to...

(The entire section is 445 words.)