Night Flight

Night Flight

by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

In this gripping novel, Saint-Exupéry tells about the brave men who piloted night mail planes from Patagonia, Chile, and Paraguay to Argentina in the early days of commercial aviation.

  • Language: English
  • Category: Fiction
  • Rating: 3.79
  • Pages: 216
  • Publish Date: April 1st 2005 by Kessinger Publishing
  • Isbn10: 1417996501
  • Isbn13: 9781417996506

What People Think about "Night Flight"

He realizes in this novel a real tribute to the pilots of Aéropostale.

Based on St-Exupéry's own experiences, the fact that he disappeared while flying a reconnaissance mission for the Free French Air Force in 1944 makes the reading experience particularly poignant.

Por otra parte iremos conociendo a Riviére, el director de la red de correos y como tiene que ir tomando decisiones y se plantea si su gestión es correcta.

There, two other books by Saint-Exupery (do surnames like that still exist?) attracted me through their first lines. And like the index of poetry, each chapter of Night Flight is headed on a lead-in page by its first line. Like reading poetry the text is clearly littered with words associated with literal darkness and the metaphorical dark areas of the human soul. Each character is a solitary, soldiering through the night, set upon a mission to get the mail through.

Five stars for the original French edition, a scant three stars for the 1931 English translation by Stuart Gilbert. The story of this night flight is told from several points of view: the pilot bound north from Patagonia on the longest and most hazardous route and the onboard radio operator who is filled with foreboding; on the ground in Buenos Aires, a timorous bureaucratic functionary and another pilot waiting to carry the mail on to Europe. At the heart of the story and in the eye of the storm stands Rivière, the manager of this continent-wide venture and the main character. Rivière is a hard man, even a brutal one, who can goad a pilot into facing his fears or whip a ground crew to super-human efforts, all to keep the planes and pilots safely aloft for another few hours. I read this novella in the original French, simultaneously with a 1932 English translation by Stuart Gilbert that I used as a sort of oil can and spare tire every time my rusty, rickety French ground to a halt. Let me give you a taste of why I rate this book five stars in French, but only three stars in the Stuart Gilbert translation.

After leaving the service, in 1923, Saint-Exupéry worked in several professions, but in 1926 he went back to flying and signed on as a pilot for Aéropostale, a private airline that flew mail from Toulouse, France, to Dakar, Senegal. He then moved briefly to Buenos Aires to oversee the establishment of an Argentinean mail service; when he returned to Paris in 1931, he published Night Flight, which won instant success and the prestigious Prix Femina. In 1938 he was seriously injured in a second plane crash, this time as he tried to fly between New York City and Tierra del Fuego, Argentina. At the beginning of the Second World War, Saint-Exupéry flew reconnaissance missions for France, but he went to New York to ask the United States for help when the Germans occupied his country.