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Night Flight

3.78 of 5 stars 3.78  ·  rating details  ·  2,945 ratings  ·  164 reviews
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. Preface by André Gide. Translated by Stuart Gilbert.
Paperback, 216 pages
Published April 1st 2005 by Kessinger Publishing (first published 1932)
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West with the Night by Beryl MarkhamCatch-22 by Joseph HellerWind, Sand and Stars by Antoine de Saint-ExupéryThe Right Stuff by Tom WolfeFate is the Hunter by Ernest K. Gann
Aviation Books
6th out of 166 books — 79 voters
The Hobbit by J.R.R. TolkienGone with the Wind by Margaret MitchellBrave New World by Aldous HuxleyThe Grapes of Wrath by John SteinbeckOf Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
Best Books of the Decade: 1930s
133rd out of 361 books — 544 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Mmars
Review on translation by Stuart Gilbert.

Looking for a particular translation of the Little Prince, I found myself in the library "Stacks" section of old, rarely checked out books. There, two other books by Saint-Exupery (do surnames like that still exist?) attracted me through their first lines. I was entranced. What exquisite writing! And like the index of poetry, each chapter of Night Flight is headed on a lead-in page by its first line. The book begins, with Fabian, the pilot silently observ
...more
Hana
Five stars for the original French edition, a scant three stars for the 1931 English translation by Stuart Gilbert.

It is 1930. South America. As a golden day turns into night, three planes are bound for an air field in Buenos Aires carrying mail from Chile, Paraguay and Patagonia. At the airfield office, the manager and ground crew wait. Across the continent, a vast cyclonic storm system is building.

The story of this night flight is told from several points of view: the pilot bound north from P
...more
Katherine
What I learned from this book: The author of The Little Prince was a huge badass.

In this short (87 pages) novella, Saint-Exupery recounts his experiences as a night mail pilot over the Andes in the 1930s (one of the world's most dangerous flight paths, and at the time a job with a staggering mortality rate). But in these 87 pages, he describes flight better than anything else I've ever read (albeit in prose that often veers into over-the-top schmaltz). He also gives us a glimpse into what it's a
...more
Jim
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Carolina
O ônibus balançava. Vazio. Só assim pude enxergar as páginas, sob um espectro de luz focado quase sobre o assento ao lado.
Ainda escuro lá fora. Enquanto lia sobre o dourado início da noite, presenciava seu pálido fim.
As palavras embalavam-me e transformavam meu lânguido movimento em vôo suave. E, não as palavras, mas o vôo, umedecia meus olhos e pensamento.
A própria leitura fazia-me voar além dela, desviando minha atenção para as pequenas paisagens, privando-me de si.
Tamanha é a sensibilidade co
...more
Eddie Watkins
Looking for a quick resurrection of an old thrill to jumpstart some recent doldrums I pulled this thin paperback off my shelf, read it in a few hours, and found my doldrums dissipated for all the wrong reasons.

The very disparity between my old thrill and my new disparagement was enough to lift my spirits backhandedly; via a via negativa as it were, a route of moulds and dogs' ears and foxing.

Old thrills... it rarely pays to chase 'em, and freshly heightened spirits attained by traipsing throug
...more
Noah
Jan 25, 2010 Noah rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Volsung
Deeply hopeful and yet delicately sad, Night Flight is a tale of man's (and, in my opinion, Saint-Exupery's) encounter with the great, unknown and dark forces of existence. To the edge of deep and true meaning he comes, though in my opinion stops before coming to the beautiful connection between the meaning encountered upon the journey and the meaning inherent in the world itself. Still, the force of will, life, and human spirit, and the beauty that he finds in the human desire to continue on ev ...more
Carlos Río
"Vuelo nocturno" tiene una primera mitad francamente confusa: hay demasiados personajes, que no sabes si son importantes o no, y hasta que de Saint-Exupéry no se centra en Rivière, no sabes qué está en juego. Pero incluso en esa primera parte, hay destellos geniales.

La segunda parte es muchísimo mejor. Ya sabes cómo es Rivière, y por qué es tan frío y duro, y lo que está intentando lograr, y reconoces a uno de los pilotos, Fabien. Entonces el autor logra momentos emocionantísimos siguiendo esos
...more
Elin(a) Vazin Fard
گوشه ای از نامه ی سنت اگزوپری به آندره ژید که در مقدمه ای توسط آندره ژید به تقریر درآمده است

اما ضمناً چیزی را فهمیدم که همواره مرا خیره می ساخت... و آن این بود که چرا افلاطون (یا شاید ارسطو؟) شجاعت را در آخرین مرحله ی فضایل جا داده است. شجاعت مجموعه ی درهم جوشی از چند احساس است که چندان هم ستودنی نیستند. اندکی خشم، قدری غرور، و بسیاری لجاجت و هیجان نمایشی و بی ارزش قدرت نمایی. از همه بالاتر تحریک نیروهای بدنی شخص که بهرحال جایشان آنجا نیست. آدم فقط بازوانش را جمع می کند و نفس عمیق می کشد و سینه
...more
Oscar
C'est un roman qui, tout comme Le Petit Prince, a évidemment été nourri de l'expérience d'Antoine de Saint-Exupéry en tant qu'aviateur. Pourtant, je l'ai trouvé beaucoup plus poétique et abstrait que son livre le plus connu, voire vague. C'est probablement l'aspect totalement adulte de ce livre, face aux réflexions innocentes et les morales qu'on peut facilement tirer du Petit Prince. Ce roman raconte une nuit dans la vie de trois pilotes de l'Amérique du Sud qui, à cette époque-là, risquaient l ...more
Nat
Saint Exupery is great when he's describing what it's like to fly an airplane. The administrative scenes don't work as well. The central character Riviere is in charge of an experimental night airmail service in South America, but his feet never leave the ground.

He does nicely characterize his "enemy", the wife of one of his pilots, who represents the world of "human happiness", "a self-coherent world...where a lamp shines at nightfall on the table...sheets turned back on the bed, the coffee on
...more
Ryan
A 5 star rating, hmm? Well, know that I'm predisposed to like this for many reasons - early aviation, pioneering, Patagonia, a paean to duty, a deep appreciation for the impossibly resonant liminal moment, etc. Oh, and it's short - 87 pages. I love short books.

A few passages to illustrate:

The director on a pilot turning back when light and machine fail him at the edge of the cordillera - "I am saving him from fear. I was not attacking him but, across him, that stubborn inertia which paralyzes
...more
Stephanie Ricker
I find that reading books about plane crashes while physically in a plane really enhances the flying experience. I told my mother that and she thought I was being facetious, but I was just being honest. I read Night Flight by Antoine de Saint-Exupery (author of The Little Prince) on the way to Michigan and Wind, Sand, and Stars by the same author on the way back, both of which include plane disasters. Both were exquisite, though not at all in the same way as The Little Prince, and both are about ...more
Luis
Este libro posee una brevedad abrumadora y un estilo poético sublime, esta cargado con metáforas simples y a su vez complejas, describe a mi país como «un adorable jardín prodigo de flores, de casas bajas y de aguas lentas»
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry habla siempre desde su propia experiencia, y su pluma solo escribe lo necesario, se podrían obtener frases memorables de cada pagina, ya que se aleja completamente de las descripciones cansinas y las coletas innecesarias, con pedazos justos va hilando
...more
Amerynth
Antoine de Saint Exupery's "Night Flight" is the story of one night in the lives of the pilots and ground grew who flew the mail across the Andes from Patagonia, Chile and Paraguay to Argentina so it could be packed on another plane for Europe. The flights were fraught with danger as sudden storms, cyclones push the planes toward the craggy mountains below. The whole operation is overseen by Riviere, a no-nonsense boss whose primary concern is not the safety of the pilots, but the ability to get ...more
Hoàng Nguyễn
Đọc lần đầu thì không hiểu, đọc lần thứ hai mới thấy rõ sự tuyệt đẹp khủng khiếp của trái đất trong đêm, đọc lần thứ ba cảm thấy xúc động vì ngôn từ của tác giả, đọc lần thứ tư thì thấm thía nỗi đau của kẻ chiến thắng.
Kelly
This is the author who wrote "The Little Prince". This book, about the pilots who flew mail planes in South American during the 1930's, is written in an older style, and I wondered how much the english translation compared to the original french. I understand there are two english translations; those would be fun to compare too.

This translation, done by Andre Gide, contains beautiful language and wonderfully crafted scenes. The drama was a little over the top, but I got into it. Sort of like lis
...more
Adam Dalva
Interesting little book with some gorgeous paragraphs and thought. It is much better in the air than on the ground - the prevailing theme when not in flight is a question of what it is to be a leader, of permanent works vs. temporary compassion. That's all fine and good but it doesn't spark. What does, I think, is A.d.S.-E.'s description of nuances of flight:

"A single radio post still heard him. The only link between him and the world was a wave of music, a minor modulation. Not a lament, no cry
...more
Dale
Night Flight is a splendid novella about the hazards of flight in its early days, and about a certain philosophy of command. The principal character is Rivière, the managing director of the air mail service in South America. He presents himself as harsh and unfair - denying punctuality bonuses to pilots who are unable to fly on time owing to weather, for example - but tells himself, honestly perhaps, that his harshness is meant only to make his men better versions of themselves.

He has initiated
...more
Ângela Serrão
Li O Principezinho primeiro. Acho que toda a gente lê esse livro primeiro, numa aventura do Exupéry, o primeiro contacto com o seu trabalho deverá ser esse livro. De qualquer forma, chorei esse livro e com este não chorei mas perto estive. Em 96 páginas e de uma forma tão suave a relaxada, o autor fala-nos das últimas horas deste piloto; da sua vida, da sua carreira, de como tudo ocorre. O mais assustador é que nem damos conta que tal está a ocorrer - a descrição é maravilhosa. É um livro que c ...more
Kay
Originally tried to read this in French when I was at school. Now I know why I struggled. Reading the English translation was rather reminiscent of picking through it in the original language. I just couldn't soak the words in. I feel like I ought to give the book another chance as it garners so many high ratings by others, and the gist of the story strikes me and makes me want to be able to dig in and savour the prose. However, Saint-Exupéry's writing just doesn't sink deep within me and deligh ...more
Gabriela
Well, I tried to read it, but could not finish it. The topic was not my cup of tea. Or rather the mood was not appropriate. I will try to read it again sometime in the future.
Bahroom
زمانی که اینکتاب رو می خوبید ، حتی اگه ترجمه های قدیمیش باشه، به یه چیز می تونین پی ببرین . اونم اینه که هیچ نویسنده ای نتو نسته به زنگی مثل اگزوپری نگاه کنه. مثل یه پرنده
Rob
Jan 21, 2008 Rob rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: beth
This book is poetry. I read it regularly. Fabien's fate is heart-rending.
Paul Harris
This dose of early aviation fiction was quite an enjoyable read, but not quite as good as I'd hoped. There are though passages of beautifully lyrical and quite poetic writing - basically when Saint-Exupéry writes on flying, and we follow the story of the brave newly-wed Patagonia airmail pilot Fabien - and then some lengthier interludes of less memorable passages from the perspective of the middle aged and no-nonsense airmail company Monsieur le Directeur Rivière. Both characters are apparently ...more
Kristin Shafel Omiccioli
What is most striking in Night Flight by far is the dreamy, poetic language. I would have to read it in French (and, you know, be proficient/fluent in French!) to make a true comparison and see how much the translation changed intents and meanings, but here is an example of the lyrical prose in the book:
Under the leaden weight of the sky the golden music of the waves was tarnished. Lament in the minor of a plane sped arrowwise against the blinding barriers of darkness, no sadder sound than this!
...more
Gale
THE PRICE OF A HUMAN SHADOW

Young Peter Schlemiel, marveling at the prodigal purse of a grey stranger at a millionaire's party, eagerly agrees to trade his shadow for limitless wealth. Not realizing the true value of something so intangible, God's fool discovers to his sorrow that he's made a hellish bargain: he is soon shunned as a cursed man by all levels of society. The one thing he can not buy is the unconditional acceptance by other human beings. Hounded by persistent and universal Supersti
...more
Francesca Pesci
Egli avrebbe potuto tentare ancora, tentare tutte le probabilità: la fatalità esteriore non esiste. Ma c'è una fatalità interiore: arriva un minuto nel quale ci si sente vulnerabili, e allora, gli errori attirano come una vertigine.

I momenti in cui de Saint-Exupery si concentra su ciò che sta vivendo Fabien sono di rara bellezza: pochi riescono a spiegare senza troppi lirismi come il pilota senta il suo aereo come carne viva e non come banale involucro metallico.
La descrizione del viaggio attra
...more
Simon
This short novel about airmail pilots on a dangerous route in 1930s Argentina basically feels like a modernized version of an early-19th century seafaring novel. It's all about these mighty men who go against the raging of the elements, and come back from the ethereal borderlands between life and death with new understandings about the importance of duty and bravery. The nightly airmail missions are described like some kind of religious quest through a dangerous parallel dimension, with the way ...more
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Antoine de Saint-Exupéry was born in Lyons on June 29, 1900. He flew for the first time at the age of twelve, at the Ambérieu airfield, and it was then that he became determined to be a pilot. He kept that ambition even after moving to a school in Switzerland and while spending summer vacations at the family's château at Saint-Maurice-de-Rémens, in eastern France. (The house at Saint-Maurice appea ...more
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“In every crowd are certain persons who seem just like the rest, yet they bear amazing messages.” 126 likes
“Even though human life may be the most precious thing on earth, we always behave as if there were something of higher value than human life.” 75 likes
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