Saint-Exupéry: A Biography

Saint-Exupéry: A Biography

by Stacy Schiff
     
 

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From a master biographer, the life story of the daring French aviator who became one of the twentieth century's most beloved authors 

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry disappeared at age forty-four during a reconnaissance flight over southern France. At the time he was best known for a career of daring flights over the Sahara, the Pyrenees, and…  See more details below

Overview

From a master biographer, the life story of the daring French aviator who became one of the twentieth century's most beloved authors 

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry disappeared at age forty-four during a reconnaissance flight over southern France. At the time he was best known for a career of daring flights over the Sahara, the Pyrenees, and Patagonia and for his contributions to the science of aviation. But the solitary hours he spent above the earth in open cockpit airplanes gave birth to a more famous legacy, a series of enchanting, autobiographical novels and the classic story The Little Prince, still the most translated book in the French language. 

An impoverished aristocrat from one of France's oldest families, Saint-Exupéry moved at age twenty-seven to the western Sahara Desert, to live alone in a plank shack and manage the way station for the Aéropostale, the French mail service. His careers as a novelist and an aviator were born here, and his life once he returned to Europe was defined--with brilliant and catastrophic results--by the sense of isolated fascination and curiosity he developed in the desert. 

In this definitive biography, Pulitzer Prize winner Stacy Schiff reveals an intrepid and unconventional life that rivals the best adventure stories. 

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Born in 1900 into one of France's oldest families, impoverished aristocrat Antoine de Saint-Exupry became a pioneer aviator, braving the Pyrenees, Patagonia and the Sahara, as well as serving as a mail pilot in the 1920s and '30s, and then turning his adventures into lyrical novels. The Little Prince, his children's fable for all ages, secured his fame. This captivating biography deftly separates the man from the myth, revealing an awkward, petulant idealist, an elitist who advocated oligarchy, a pilot known for his mishaps and absentmindedness, and an unhappily married adventurer whose abusive wife eventually reached an uneasy accommodation with his mistress. Fleeing German-occupied France for New York City in 1940, Saint-Exupry felt he was shirking his duty as a Frenchman; he attained the noble death he sought in 1944, missing in action on a reconnaissance flight over southern France. Schiff is a former senior editor at Simon & Schuster. Photos not seen by PW. (Nov.)
Library Journal
Antoine de Saint-Exupry, heroic in flight, inept in everyday life, comes alive in this well-documented portrait by first-time author Schiff. Saint-Exupry spent his happiest days flying the mails for Aropostale during the 1920s. When he arrived in Algiers in 1943 after a painful stay in New York during the early days of World War II, where he completed The Little Prince, he believed that he was finished. He had refused to support either De Gaulle and the Free French or the Ptain Vichy government and had expressed the desire to die for his country. In 1944 he died mysteriously in the cockpit of a wartime reconnaissance plane while flying a mission over Italy. Like his Little Prince, he had seen only 44 sunsets. A stimulating biography recommended to everyone with an interest in early aviation and Saint-Exupry.-Bob Ivey, Memphis State Univ., Tenn.
Donna Seaman
"It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye." This is from The Little Prince", a book that still sells 135,000 copies a year in America, 52 years after Saint-Exupery (1900-44) wrote it during one of his many tempestuous exiles from his homeland. Saint-Exupery himself has been largely forgotten, but Schiff has resurrected him in this invigoratingly witty, meticulous, and tenderhearted biography. After describing his "enchanted-garden childhood," Schiff goes on to create a vivid portrait of this "impoverished aristocrat." Dark-eyed, ungainly, bohemian, and romantic, Saint-Exupery never outgrew his boyhood passion for poetry, magic, and flying machines and was happiest as a mail pilot flying the Casablanca-Dakar route over the forbidding but liberating western Sahara, a landscape that shaped all of his fiction. A man adored by women, his tumultuous marriage to Consuelo Gomez Carrillo was legendary, as was his knack for getting himself into political hot water. A man brimming with dreams and sorrow, he disappeared into thin air in a plane crash as inevitable and enigmatic as the demise of his Little Prince. Schiff tells Saint-Exupery's adventure-filled and impassioned life story with remarkable skill and insight, sending us back to his books with renewed interest and compassion.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780307798398
Publisher:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
07/27/2011
Sold by:
Random House
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
522
Sales rank:
522,778
File size:
6 MB

What People are saying about this

Phillip Lopate
Exemplary. What distinguishes this biography from so many others is the elegance, witty intelligence, and sure line-by-line pleasure of the writing.

Meet the Author

Stacy Schiff is the author of A Great Improvisation and Vera (Mrs. Vladimir Nabokov), which won the 2000 Pulitzer Prize for biography. She has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities, and was a Director's Fellow at the Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library. Schiff lives in New York City.

Brief Biography

Hometown:
New York, New York
Date of Birth:
October 26, 1961
Place of Birth:
Adams, Massachusetts
Education:
B.A., Williams College, 1982
Website:
http://stacyschiff.com/

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