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Wind, Sand and Stars (1939)

by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Airman's Odyssey (2)

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2,670503,794 (4.08)87
Recipient of the Grand Prix of the Académie Française, Wind, Sand and Stars captures the grandeur, danger, and isolation of flight. Its exciting account of air adventure, combined with lyrical prose and the spirit of a philosopher, makes it one of the most popular works ever written about flying. Translated by Lewis Galantière.… (more)

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» See also 87 mentions

English (42)  French (3)  Danish (2)  Catalan (1)  Arabic (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (50)
Showing 1-5 of 42 (next | show all)
I delayed reading this, I think, fearing that it would be too precious for me, thinking that a memoir exploring things like "heart" or "character" or "spirit" might be charming and anachronistic but little else. How wrong I was! Hardly the sepia-tinted snapshot of a frog abroad, this is a vivid account of the author's travels around the world: the Spanish Civil War rendered in stereo, whole lifetimes measured in the silences between telegram transmissions, everything here is described in such living, breathing detail. You realize, reading this, that the simplicity and elegance of a book like "The Little Prince" is hard-earned. It reminds me of that passage from Moby Dick...

"There is a wisdom that is woe; but there is a woe that is madness. And there is a Catskill eagle in some souls that can alike dive down into the blackest gorges, and soar out of them again and become invisible in the sunny spaces. And even if he for ever flies within the gorge, that gorge is in the mountains; so that even in his lowest swoop the mountain eagle is still higher than other birds upon the plain, even though they soar."

I thought of this when reading the chapter about his buddy Mermoz and again when he describes his crash landing in the Sahara. You wonder what right the rest of the world has to cynicism if, after staggering through a desert in stages of extreme dehydration and hallucinatory despair, the author emerges in renewed awe of the natural world and the goodness of man. All the old-world cliches about heroism, friendship, what it means to be a man, etc., all these cliches that you distrust because they've been exhumed and beaten like a dead horse, because you've seen them over and over again in big nostalgia vehicles helmed by stupid old millionaires, all those cliches seem so immediate, vibrant, and beautiful here. It is not a book about simpler times-- clearly, nothing is better here-- but about sincerity in action, deliberation in course, dudes flying biplanes in the Andes or fighting in the Spanish Civil War, not because they have to but because they must. Ahhh! This is why I love travelogues so much, because they articulate the instinct that compels us headlong into disaster. ( )
  uncleflannery | May 16, 2020 |
A magical telling of those early airplane flights crossing the deserts. Existential questions during a time of war. This book will transport readers to another place and time. ( )
  DanMicAub | Mar 23, 2020 |
These are autobiographical essays based mostly on his experiences as a mail pilot for Aéropostale in Africa and South America, and one chapter about the Spanish Civil War. It’s good.

One of my favorite comic literary devices is the secret, insulting dinner party game:

"When I was a child my sisters had a way of giving marks to guests who were honoring our table for the first time. Conversation might languish for a moment, and then in the silence we could hear the sudden impact of 'Sixty!'--a word that could tickle only the family, who knew that one hundred was par. Branded by this low mark, the guest would all unknowing continue to spend himself in little courtesies while we sat screaming inwardly with delight."

This brings to mind a bit that shows up in a Louis Auchincloss novel, I don’t recall which (revealed in one of his memoirs to be based on real-life): some regulars on the society dinner party circuit started selling “bore insurance” to their friends that would pay cash if you had the misfortune of being seated next one of the notoriously soporific chowderheads that could otherwise ruin your evening. They kept a list ranking them and assigning payouts. ( )
  k6gst | Sep 13, 2019 |
This biography takes us on an adventure through the exhilarating early days of aviation. It is filled with tales of escapades, of both the author and his contemporaries. We hear of crashes in the desert, and in the snow-bound mountains, remote from habitation, where shear grit and endurance have been the difference between making it through and death from the elements, starvation, freezing or thirst. We hear of raids on remote outposts by warring tribes, of the rescue of a slave from the captivity of Arabs, of duty to save the post from perishing with the plane, and the physical battle between man and the weather when the machine he is flying is shaking itself to pieces and the controls of the plane become an extension to his being.

Woven throughout these cinematic and thrilling scenarios we have true insight on the human condition, its varieties, and its reaction to extreme situations. This is a truly humanist work from a highly sensitive yet resilient author, whose appreciation of the poetry of nature and human existence is suitably reflected in his skill at writing. This is a fine literary biography of much aesthetic value, and filled with so much excitement and suspense that when the still reflective moments come they are even better. There is so much to like about this book that I would recommend it to most readers. ( )
  P_S_Patrick | Jun 13, 2019 |
Reread. Crazy tales of early aviation in unmapped areas. Example - flying the mail over the Andes from Brazil to Peru. ( )
  Grace.Van.Moer | Jan 6, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 42 (next | show all)
Saint Exupéry pilotava aviões nos tempos heróicos da aviação comercial - tempo em que os aviões voavam a mil, dois mil metros e, nos dias de céu limpo, podia-se admirar a paisagem lá em baixo. Foi ele um dos primeiros pilotos da Air France a estabelecer a rota do correio aéreo para a África e a América Latina, enfrentando, com instrumentos rudimentares, as travessias do oceano, Sahara, Patagônia e Cordilheira dos Andes.

Pilotando os pequenos aviões na quietude de noites estreladas ou sobrevoando durante horas de um dia interminável a imensidão de desertos e de planícies despovoadas, Saint Exupéry perscrutava agudamente a alma humana. Surge dessa reflexão uma proposta humanista muito peculiar, que entusiasmou muita gente nos anos que se seguiram à Segunda Guerra Mundial.

Panes eram comuns nos tempos heróicos da aviação comercial e nem sempre tinham conseqüências fatais. Os aviões eram menores, menos velozes e planavam com facilidade. Porém, escapando da morte na queda do avião, pilotos e mecânicos tinham de lutar pela vida na caminhada em busca de socorro. Terra dos Homens narra vários desses episódios nos quais foram os valores morais que levaram esses homens a fazer enormes sacrifícios e a encontrar insuspeitadas reservas de energia para vencer desertos, neves eternas, hostilidades de beduinos sublevados.

Não se trata, porém, de livro de aventuras ou de explorações. Terra dos Homens é, na verdade, uma amorosa meditação sobre o senso de responsabilidade; o valor do coleguismo, o prazer de uma conversa solta numa roda alegre após um dia duro de trabalho; a emoção de ver o sol se pôr na imensidão do mar, a alegria do aceno da menina aos pilotos que, na rota para o Chile, sobrevoavam um rincão perdido da Patagônia - episódios de um poema em prosa que celebra a natureza, o sentido da vida, a dignidade do trabalhador.

» Add other authors (26 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Saint-Exupéry, Antoine deAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Brouwer, JohannesTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cosgrave, John O'HaraIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Galantière, LewisTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rees, WilliamTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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This book is dedicated to Henr Guillaumet, my comrade.
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La terre nous en apprend plus long sur nous que tous les livres. Parce qu'elle nous résiste.
In 1926 I was enrolled as student airline pilot by the Latecoere Company, the predecessors of Aeropostale (now Air France) in the operation of the line between Toulouse, in southwestern France, and Dakar, in French West Africa.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Recipient of the Grand Prix of the Académie Française, Wind, Sand and Stars captures the grandeur, danger, and isolation of flight. Its exciting account of air adventure, combined with lyrical prose and the spirit of a philosopher, makes it one of the most popular works ever written about flying. Translated by Lewis Galantière.

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