Critical Context

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

Although Wind, Sand, and Stars was written for adults, one of its chapters, “Prisoner of the Sands,” is the basis of Saint-Exupéry’s one book for children, Le Petit Prince (1943; The Little Prince, 1943). It tells of an aviator stranded in the desert who meets a young boy fallen to earth from an asteroid where he is the sole inhabitant. The boy has an instinctive communion with nature; he talks to roses and listens to stars. The flyer and the boy become companions over the tales of the boy’s adventures on several planets. At last, the boy begins to feel “tamed” as he establishes his first intimate relationship with another person. Unfortunately, he is bitten by a snake and dies, although the narrator wants to believe that the youth has only returned to his asteroid. Emotionally rich without being sentimental, The Little Prince repeats the major themes of Wind, Sand, and Stars: life’s fragility, the individual’s uniqueness, and the bittersweet paradox of emotional attachment. The Little Prince, a best-seller in several languages, has become an international classic.

Saint-Exupéry’s experiences as a pilot form the basis of two other works, Vol de nuit (1931; Night Flight, 1932) and Pilote de guerre (1942; Flight to Arras, 1942). Both books are novels and possess neither the reflective, meditative dimension of Wind, Sand, and Stars nor its evocative, lyrical style. They do reiterate, however, the author’s love of flying and passionate commitment to humanity.