"If you want to build a ship, don't drum up people to collect wood and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea."
- Antoine de Saint Exupéry
Antoine de Saint Exupéry (1900-1944, pronounced Sant-Exoopairee), was a French writer and aviator. He was born and brought up in Lyon, the third of five children. After studying architecture, he began his military service in 1921 with the 2nd Regiment of Chasseurs (a light cavalry regiment) and was sent to Strasbourg for pilot training. The following year, having obtained his pilot's license, he was given the opportunity to transfer to the air force but, under pressure from his family, instead took an office job in Paris.
In 1926, he returned to the skies becoming one of the pioneers of the international postal service working the route between Toulouse and Dakar.
In 1929, he published Southern Mail (Courrier Sud) and became director of an airfield in Morocco from where he flew the Casablanca-Dakar route. Shortly after, he moved to South America where he was appointed director of the Aeroposta Argentina Company.
Night Flight (Vol de Nuit), the book that made his name, was published in 1931. Also in 1931, he married Consuelo Gómez Carillo. It was a stormy marriage most likely due to his frequent absences and many affairs.
In December 1935, while attempting a flying speed record from Paris to Saigon, Saint Exupéry and his navigator, André Prévot, crashed in the Libyan desert. According to his memoir, Wind, Sand and Stars, although both survived the landing they had little in the way of supplies and faced rapid dehydration. By day three they were experiencing visual and auditory hallucinations and were so dehydrated they could not sweat. On the fourth day they were found by a Bedouin who saved their lives. Chapter 2 of Saint Exupéry's fable, The Little Prince (1942), references this experience.
Saint Exupéry continued to write and fly until 1940 when, following Germany's defeat of France, he and his wife moved to the USA. A little over two years later, Saint Exupéry returned to Europe to fly with the Free French Forces. At 43 he was considerably older than most pilots and suffered pain due to previous injuries. His final assignment, on July 31 1944, was to collect intelligence on German troop movements in the Rhone River area. He left from Corsica and was never seen again.
In 1998, a fisherman found a bracelet south of Marseille which was positively identified as Saint Exupéry's. In 2000, a diver found a plane in the same area which was confirmed to be his. In March 2008, the 64-year mystery was apparently resolved when 88-year-old Horst Rippert, a former German World War II fighter pilot (who had been tracked down by people researching the downed plane) stated that he had believed for some time that he shot down the French literary hero on July 31, 1944. Rippert says that, had he known who was in the plane, he would have held his fire: "He knew admirably how to describe the sky, the thoughts and feelings of pilots .... His work inspired many of us to take up our vocation."
More quotes by Antoine de Saint Exupéry
"A civilization is built on what is required of men, not on that which is provided for them."
"A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away."
"A single event can awaken within us a stranger totally unknown to us. To live is to be slowly born."
"Each man must look to himself to teach him the meaning of life. It is not something discovered: it is something molded."
"I know but one freedom, and that is the freedom of the mind."
"Life has meaning only if one barters it day by day for something other than itself."
"Life has taught us that love does not consist in gazing at each other but in looking outward in the same direction."
"Once men are caught up in an event, they cease to be afraid. Only the unknown frightens men."
"One can be a brother only in something. Where there is no tie that binds men, men are not united but merely lined up."
"The time for action is now. It's never too late to do something."
"War is not an adventure. It is a disease. It is like typhus."
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