Wind, Sand and Stars

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First U.S. edition book jacket (publisher: Reynal & Hitchcock)

Wind, Sand and Stars (French title: Terre des hommes) is a memoir by the French aristocrat aviator-writer Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, and a winner of several literary awards. It was first published in France in February 1939, and was then translated by Lewis Galantière and published in English by Reynal and Hitchcock in the United States later the same year.[1]

In his autobiographical work Saint-Exupéry, an early pioneering aviator, evokes a series of events in his life – principally the period when he was working for the airmail carrier Aéropostale. He does so by recounting several episodes from his years flying treacherous mail routes across the African Sahara and the South American Andes. The book's themes deal with friendship, death, heroism, camaraderie and solidarity among colleagues, humanity and the search for meaning in life. The book illustrates the author's view of the world and his opinions of what makes life worth living.

The central incident he wrote of detailed his 1935 plane crash in the Sahara Desert between Benghazi and Cairo, which he barely survived along with his mechanic-navigator, André Prévot. Saint-Exupéry and his navigator were left almost completely without water and food, and as the chances of finding an oasis or help from the air gradually decreased, the two men nearly died of thirst before being saved by a Bedouin on a camel.

Henri Guillaumet of Aéropostale was the friend Saint-Exupéry dedicated the book to. The French and English versions of this book differed significantly; Saint-Exupéry removed sections from the original French version he considered inappropriate for its targeted U.S. audience, and added new material specifically written for them, and Lewis Galantière translated the revised book into English. Although it did not appear in the earliest editions of its English translation, "An Appreciation" was added to later printings, contributed by Anne Morrow Lindbergh and earlier published in The Saturday Review of Literature on 14 October 1939.[1]

The English title was approved by Saint-Exupéry. The French title is capable of multiple translations, as "terre" can mean "land", "world", or "clay", and it can also be a homophone for "taire" ("to silence", or "silencing"). "Hommes" can be translated as "men" or "people".

Tributes[edit]

The charity Terre des hommes took its name from this book in 1959. The charitable international federation of humanitarian societies concentrates on children's rights, and is based in Lausanne, Switzerland.

The book's title was subsequently 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. In 1963, a group of prominent Canadians met for three days at the Seigneury Club in Montebello, Quebec.[2] The theme, "Terre des Hommes-Man and His World", was based on Saint-Exupéry's book. In an introduction to the Expo 67 Corporation's book, entitled "Terre des Hommes/Man and His World", Gabrielle Roy wrote:[3]

In Terre des Hommes, his haunting book, so filled with dreams and hopes for the future, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry writes of how deeply moved he was when, flying for the first time by night alone over Argentina, he happened to notice a few flickering lights scattered below him across an almost empty plain. They "twinkled here and there, alone like stars."

.... In truth, being made aware of our own solitude can give us insight into the solitude of others. It can even cause us to gravitate towards one another as if to lessen our distress. Without this inevitable solitude, would there be any fusion at all, any tenderness between human beings. Moved as he was by a heightened awareness of the solitude of all creation and by the human need for solidarity, Saint-Exupéry found a phrase to express his anguish and his hope that was as simple as it was rich in meaning; and because that phrase was chosen many years later to be the governing idea of Expo 67, a group of people from all walks of life was invited by the Corporation to reflect upon it and to see how it could be given tangible form.

Awards and recognitions[edit]

References[edit]

Notes
  1. ^ Non-American authors were eligible for the U.S. "national" awards before the war and authors from France and the British Isles won five of twelve awards in the general nonfiction and fiction categories.
Citations
  1. ^ a b c Miller, John R.; Fay, Eliot G. "Antoine de Saint-Exupéry: A Bibliography", The French Review, American Association of Teachers of French, Vol.19, No.5, March 1946, p.300 (subscription). Retrieved 20 September 2011.
  2. ^ Berton, p. 258
  3. ^ Roy, G., pp. 20-22
  4. ^ "1939 Book Awards Given by Critics: Elgin Groseclose's 'Ararat' is Picked as Work Which Failed to Get Due Recognition", The New York Times, 1940-02-14, page 25. ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851-2007).

External links[edit]