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Wind, Sand and Stars (Harvest Book) Paperback – December 9, 2002
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About the Author
ANTOINE DE SAINT-EXUPÉRY, the "Winged Poet," was born in Lyon, France, in 1900. A pilot at twenty-six, he was a pioneer of commercial aviation and flew in the Spanish Civil War and World War II. His writings include The Little Prince, Wind, Sand and Stars, Night Flight, Southern Mail, and Airman's Odyssey. In 1944, while flying a reconnaissance mission for his French air squadron, he disappeared over the Mediterranean.
Top Customer Reviews
In the opening lines of the original French version Saint-Exupery writes:
"The earth teaches us more about ourselves than all the books.
Because it resists us. Man discovers himself when he measures
himself against the obstacle"
Wind, Sand and Stars is intensely autobiographical as it tells us of this man's adventures from his beginnings as a pilot with the air mail service over France, Spain and North Africa before World War I, through to his musings as an observer of the Spanish Civil War. But far more than an adventurer, Saint-Exupery writes like a poet and has the heart of a philosopher. This wonderful book (a credit to the translator from the original French) has incredibly rich descriptive passages in which he lays out for the reader the details observed in the natural world and the response that these evoke in his mind, heart and soul.
In one section of the book (which a reader familiar with The Little Prince cannot help but conclude was inspirational for that work) Saint-Exupery describes at length his near-death experience after crashing in the Libyan desert, and wandering for days without water or hope:
"Apart from your suffering, I have no regrets. All in all, it has been
a good life. If I got free of this I should start right in again. A man
cannot live a decent life in cities, and I need to feel myself live. I
am not thinking of aviation. The aeroplane is a means, not an end.
One doesn't risk one's life for a plane any more than a farmer ploughs
for the sake of the plough. But the aeroplane is a means of getting
away from towns and their book-keeping and coming to grips with
Wind, Sand and Stars is not an easy read. But for those with patience and an interest (in a phrase from The Little Prince) in "listening with the heart", here is an insight to one man's struggle to understand and articulate the sacredness and greatness of human life.
Wind, Sand and Stars is a recounting of several episodes in Saint-Exupery's life as a pilot, told to illustrate his view of the world, and especially his opinions of what makes life worth living, and who we are or should be. He was a wonderfully insightful individual, and his prose and ideas are the sort of thing you'll carry with you for years. I would highly recommend this book.
Despite the relative infancy of the aviation industry at the time he composed them, Saint-Ex clearly understood that flying - especially the type of long and dangerous kind that he was engaged in - was both a metaphor and a brilliant illumination into the nature of the human condition.
Like flying into uncharted territory, our journey through life is fraught with perils, faced mostly alone and with few witnesses to our acts of courage or cowardice. However, instead of facing up to this fact, Saint-Ex points out how "modern" culture consists of ever more elaborate denials of this basic fact: we have been indoctrinated with the goal of spending our lives working solely to achieve the most comfortable, painless, risk-free existence possible. And we continue to do so, much to our detriment.
These essays are skillful and evocative arguments that! ! only when we face up to, and acknowledge our tenuous and perilous existence, can we truly appreciate what it means to be alive. Saint-Ex does a wonderful job in writing about what has become important to him: experiencing the majestic beauty and power of the earth and nature, what the existentialists would call "being authentic", and the friendship and cameraderie of the pilots and people he has met on his journeys.
"Men travel side by side for years - each locked up in his own silence... till danger comes. Then they stand shoulder to shoulder. Then they discover they belong to the same family....
Happiness! It is useless to seek it elsewhere than in this warmth of human relations...
Each man must look to himself to learn the meaning of life. It is not something discovered: it is something molded. These prison walls that the age of trade has built around us, we can break down. We can still run free, call to our comrades, and marvel to hear once more! ! , in response to our call, the chant of the human voice.&qu! ot;