Antoine de Saint-Exupéry:
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry was a French aristocrat, writer, poet, and pioneering aviator.
He became a laureate of several of France’s highest literary awards and also won the U.S. National Book Award.
He is best remembered for his novella “The Little Prince” (Le Petit Prince) and for his lyrical aviation writings, including “Wind, Sand and Stars” and “Night Flight”.
Saint-Exupéry was a successful commercial pilot before World War II, working airmail routes in Europe, Africa and South America.
At the outbreak of war, he joined the French Air Force (Armée de l’Air), flying reconnaissance missions until France’s armistice with Germany in 1940.
After being demobilised from the French Air Force, he travelled to the United States to persuade its government to enter the war against Nazi Germany.
Following a 27-month hiatus in North America, during which he wrote three of his most important works, he joined the Free French Air Force in North Africa, although he was far past the maximum age for such pilots and in declining health. He disappeared over the Mediterranean on his last assigned reconnaissance mission in July 1944, and is believed to have died at that time.
Prior to the war, Saint-Exupéry had achieved fame in France as an aviator. His literary works, among them “The Little Prince”, translated into over 250 languages and dialects, propelled his stature posthumously allowing him to achieve national hero status in France.
He earned further widespread recognition with international translations of his other works. His 1939 philosophical memoir “Terre des hommes” became the name of a major international humanitarian group, and was also used to create the central theme (Terre des hommes–Man and His World) of the most successful world’s fair of the 20th century, Expo 67 in Montreal, Canada.
While not precisely autobiographical, much of Saint-Exupéry’s work is inspired by his experiences as a pilot.
One notable example is his novella, “The Little Prince”, a poetic tale self-illustrated in watercolours in which a pilot stranded in the desert meets a young prince fallen to Earth from a tiny asteroid. “The Little Prince” is a philosophical story, including societal criticism, remarking on the strangeness of the adult world.
One biographer wrote of his most famous work: “Rarely have an author and a character been so intimately bound together as Antoine de Saint-Exupéry and his Little Prince”, and remarking of their dual fates, “…the two remain tangled together, twin innocents who fell from the sky”.