Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Saint-Exupéry in Toulouse, France, 1933
Saint-Exupéry in Toulouse, France, 1933
BornAntoine Marie Jean-Baptiste Roger
(1900-06-29)29 June 1900
Lyon, France
Diedpresumed 31 July 1944(1944-07-31) (aged 44)
south of Marseille, France
OccupationAviator, writer
EducationVilla St. Jean International School
GenreAutobiography, belles-lettres, essays, children's literature
Notable awards
SpouseConsuelo Suncín de Sandoval (1931 – his death)


Antoine Marie Jean-Baptiste Roger, comte de Saint-Exupéry[3][Note 1] (French: [ɑ̃twan də sɛ̃tɛɡzypeʁi]; 29 June 1900 – 31 July 1944) was a French writer, poet, aristocrat, journalist, and pioneering aviator. He became a laureate of several of France's highest literary awards and also won the U.S. National Book Award.[5] 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 help 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 a 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 300[6] languages and dialects – posthumously boosted his stature to national hero status in France.[7][8] He earned further widespread recognition with international translations of his other works. His 1939 philosophical memoir Wind, Sand and Stars (Terre des hommes in French) became the name of an international humanitarian group, and was also used to create the central theme of the most successful world's fair of the 20th century, Expo 67 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.[9]

Youth and aviation

Birthplace of Saint-Exupéry in the Presqu'île section of Lyon, on the street now named after him, in blue at lower left.

Saint-Exupéry was born in Lyon to an aristocratic Catholic family that could trace its lineage back several centuries. He was the third of five children of the Viscountess Marie de Fonscolombe and Viscount Jean de Saint Exupéry (1863–1904).[10][11][12][Note 2] His father, an executive of the Le Soleil (The Sun) insurance brokerage, died of a stroke in Lyon's La Foux train station before his son's fourth birthday. His father's death affected the entire family, transforming their status to that of 'impoverished aristocrats'.[14]

Saint-Exupéry had three sisters and a younger blond-haired brother, François, who at age 15 died of rheumatic fever contracted while both were attending the Marianist College Villa St. Jean in Fribourg, Switzerland, during World War I. Saint-Exupéry attended to his brother, his closest confidant, beside François' death bed, and later wrote that François "...remained motionless for an instant. He did not cry out. He fell as gently as a [young] tree falls", imagery which would much later be recrafted into the climactic ending of The Little Prince. At the age of 17, now the only "man" in the family following the death of his brother, the young author was left as distraught as his mother and sisters, but he soon assumed the mantle of a protector and took to consoling them.[15]

After twice failing his final exams at a preparatory Naval Academy, Saint-Exupéry entered the École des Beaux-Arts as an auditor to study architecture for 15 months, again without graduating, and then fell into the habit of accepting odd jobs. In 1921, Saint-Exupéry began his military service as a basic-rank soldier with the 2e Régiment de chasseurs à cheval (2nd Regiment of light cavalry) and was sent to Neuhof, near Strasbourg.[16] While there he took private flying lessons and the following year was offered a transfer from the French Army to the French Air Force. He received his pilot's wings after being posted to the 37th Fighter Regiment in Casablanca, Morocco. Later, being reposted to the 34th Aviation Regiment at Le Bourget on the outskirts of Paris, and then experiencing the first of his many aircraft crashes, Saint-Exupéry bowed to the objections of the family of his fiancée, future novelist Louise Lévêque de Vilmorin, and left the air force to take an office job. The couple ultimately broke off their engagement and he worked at several more odd jobs without success over the next few years.[citation needed]

By 1926, Saint-Exupéry was flying again. He became one of the pioneers of international postal flight, in the days when aircraft had few instruments. Later he complained that those who flew the more advanced aircraft had become more like accountants than pilots. He worked for Aéropostale between Toulouse and Dakar, and then also became the airline stopover manager for the Cape Juby airfield in the Spanish zone of South Morocco, in the Sahara desert. His duties included negotiating the safe release of downed fliers taken hostage by Saharan tribes, a perilous task which earned him his first Légion d'honneur from the French Government.[citation needed]

In 1929, Saint-Exupéry was transferred to Argentina, where he was appointed director of the Aeroposta Argentina airline. He surveyed new air routes across South America, negotiated agreements, and even occasionally flew the airmail as well as search missions looking for downed fliers. This period of his life is briefly explored in Wings of Courage, an IMAX film by French director Jean-Jacques Annaud.[17]

Other Languages
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Антуан дэ Сэнт-Экзюпэры
davvisámegiella: Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Bahasa Indonesia: Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Lëtzebuergesch: Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Lingua Franca Nova: Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
татарча/tatarça: Antuan de Sent-Ekzüperi
vepsän kel’: Sent-Ekzüperi Antuan de