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Exhibition Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry Exhibition
"Saint-Ex" as seen by his friends (book excerpts)

 

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (1900-1944)was born in Lyon on 29 June 1900, his friend Jean Mermoz the following year, and their mutual friend Henri Guillaumet a few months later. All three were to become aviation legends. Yet when they were born, aviation could not even be said to have existed, since the Wright brothers did not make their famous first flight until 18 December 1903.

In 1912, flying was only for the likes of "Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines" and even fewer people had had the privilege of being passengers. And yet in July 1912, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, aged just 12, took his first joyride in Ambérieu. After secondary school, he went to the French naval college, but decided against a career in the Navy. Instead, he applied for a job at the Latécoère factory at Montaudran near Toulouse, where he was interviewed by Didier Daurat.
Daurat noted at the time that Saint-Exupéry had only logged a few hours in the air and seemed more a dreamer than a man of action. He nevertheless decided to take the young man on. "Saint-Ex", as he came to be known, started work on 14 October 1926 and was assigned to the Toulouse-Casablanca route.
But it was as head of the Cape Juby refuelling station in Morocco that his career entered a new phase, for he used the long intervals between flights to write. First, Courrier Sud (Southern Mail) then Vol de Nuit (Night Flight), published in 1931, which won France’s coveted Prix Fémina award.

At this point Saint-Exupéry left Latécoère to write full time, penning a multitude of articles and accepting speaking engagements — but also filing a number of patents. But in 1935 he returned to his lifelong passion of flying. At the controls of a Simoun, he attempted to beat the Paris-Saigon record, crashing in the desert in the night of 29-30 December 1935 before reaching Cairo.

War broke out in 1939. Saint-Exupéry was first mobilized with the rank of captain, then failed his medical. Later he got himself assigned to the French Air Force’s Group II flying Potez 63s. Then, on 14 December 1939, he was awarded a major literary prize for his novel Terre des Hommes (Wind, Sand, and Stars). In June 1940, he moved to the United States and settled in New York, where he wrote what were to become his most celebrated works, including Pilote de Guerre (Flight to Arras), Lettre à un Otage (Letter to a Hostage) and the immensely successful Le Petit Prince (The Little Prince).

In 1943, with the Americans now in the war, Saint-Exupéry made his way to the French military mission in New York, headed by General Bethouard. The mission was recruiting French resistance fighters prepared to take up arms again, and Saint-Exupéry was among the first to answer the call. Despite his age (42), he had the tenacity to win his wings as a Lightning P38 pilot and was stationed in Corsica.
From there he flew ten wartime missions, but failed to return from the last. As Didier Daurat later said: "He is gone … amid the stars, just like the Little Prince".

 

Description Exhibition comprising 19 mounted posters, each measuring 120cm x 80cm. Published by the French Archives Nationales, the posters illustrate Saint-Exupéry’s life.The exhibition is shipped in packing cases with the posters mounted in rigid frames.


Saint-Exupéry at Cape Juby, Morocco

 

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