Little Prince

Saint-Exupery, Antione de. The Little Prince, 75th Anniversary Edition. Translated by Richard Howard. Editions Gallimard, 2018.

Reason read: July is considered Children’s Book Month.

The preface to this review is that I somehow picked up the 75th anniversary edition of The Little Prince. In addition to reading a cute short story designed for children of all ages, I am reviewing the history, making, and perceptions of the classic tale. It includes Saint Exupery’s biography, tons of beautiful photographs, and fourteen appreciation essays. Really cool. The story of The Little Prince starts with a downed aviator (probaly Saint-Exupery himself), trying to fix his plane. He encounters a young boy, “the Little Prince” who asks him to draw him a picture. From there, the story blooms into a tale about a child’s relationship with adult realities. The child ends up being more mature than the adults he encounters. Grownups always need explanations.

As an aside, it brought a shiver to my spine when the Little Pricne asked the pilot if he fell out of the sky for that is how Saint-Exupery died.

Quotes I liked, “One must command from each what each can perform” (p 111) and”You risk tears if you let yourself be tamed” (p 153). This last line reminds me of Natalie Merchant’s line, “To pick a pick a rose you ask your hands to bleed.”

Author fact: to look at Saint-Exupery is to hear a French accent. His face is oh so France.

Book trivia: the French version of The Little Prince was translated by Vali Tamm and published in April 1946, two years after Saint-Exupery’s death. The 75th anniversary edition was supposed to have a free audio download, but the url didn’t work. I found another version (or maybe it’s the same one) on YouTube for the 70th anniversary.

Nancy said: Pearl said Saint-Exupery is best known for The Little Prince.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “Flying Above the Clouds” (p 89). In theory, The little Prince should not have been included in this chapter unless you call living on a tiny planet flying high above the clouds…

Southern Mail

Saint-Exupery, Antoine de. Southern Mail. Translated by Curtis Cate. San Diego: Harcourt Brace & Company, 1971.

Previously published as Courrier Sad, Southern Mail introduces us to love and loneliness. Bernis is a pilot caught in a tragic love affair. It complicates his entire psyche until he is in the air, delivering the mail. Flying is his true passion but it’s also where he feels the loneliest. Woven throughout the slim volume Saint-Exupery reveals a philosophical beauty about landscapes (lots of references to the ocean) as well as the people. But, much like Night Flight the emphasis is on the timely deliverance of the mail. Nowhere is that more apparent than at the very end of the story. While the plane had crashed and the pilot was lost they still managed to salvage the mail and it, if not the pilot, arrived on safely.

Quotes that had to be quoted, “Tonight, in a moment of fleeting rapture, she would seek out this weak shoulder and bury her face in this weak refuge, like some wild wounded creature preparing to die” (p 54-55), “Yet so cruel was his loneliness that he needed her terribly” (p 74), and “His heart would have melted from sadness and joy” (p 103).

Reason read: to continue the series started in March.

Author fact: Saint-Exupery died when he was 44 years old.

Book trivia: This is another short one – only 120 pages long.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “Flying High Above the Clouds” (p 90).

Night Flight

Saint-Exupery, Antoine de. Night Flight. Translated by Stuart Gilbert. San Diego: Harvest/HBJ Book, 1932.

Reason read: March 1949: B-45 Tornado bomber sets speed record at 675 miles per hour.

One single night in time. This is the simple, subtle, yet tragically beautiful story of three mail planes coming into Buenos Aires from Chile, Patagonia and Paraguay. On the ground is director Monsieur Riviere whose chief worry is the mail getting to its destination on time. He is bulldog stubborn about it despite looming dangers. Meanwhile, in the air, one of the pilots, newlywed Fabien, faces danger when cyclone – fierce storms blow in from the Andes.

This is a subtle yet powerful second installment of the aviation trilogy which begins with Wind, Sand and Stars and ends with Southern Mail. SPOILER: While Fabien’s death is never clearly spelled out, death is almost certain when his airplane never arrives in Buenos Aires.

Line I liked: “He bent his mind toward the memory” (p 18).

Author fact: Saint-Exupery was a airmail pilot himself.

Book trivia: In some cases this would have been considered a short story as it is only 88 pages long.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “Flying High Above the Clouds” (p 94).