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The Wisdom of the Sands (Citadelle)

4.19  ·  Rating details ·  1,623 ratings  ·  93 reviews
The final, deeply-felt summing-up of the author's experience and his philosophy of life. Choosing a desert prince as his protagonist and narrator, he presents the timeless problems of humanity against the austere background of the wilderness. The book abounds in vivid pictures of desert life, forays and sandstorms, mirage-born madness, beleaguered cities, caravans going th ...more
Paperback, 350 pages
Published 1979 by University of Chicago Press (first published April 22nd 1948)
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Octavian Actually it's a pretty tricky question, because the English edition is incomplete. How many chapters does your edition have and at what chapter this…moreActually it's a pretty tricky question, because the English edition is incomplete. How many chapters does your edition have and at what chapter this quote is located in yours?(less)
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Jun 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Shelves: favorites
It is the perfect book for the modern man that doesn’t have time to read but still wants to. You can read if you want 15 minutes every day. You can also open it at any page and read. It doesn’t require a plot to remember, because it has no plot. It is not a novel.

The original version is structured in 219 chapters that are from just a paragraph to a couple of pages long. The chapters are philosophical notes of the author about life and humanity. He envisions a city that he rules over and he spea
Aug 21, 2011 marked it as not-finished
Page 9: So the father takes him into the desert to see a woman stripped naked and bound to a stake for some crime.
"Listen," my father said. "She is discovering that which is essential."
But I was a child, and craven.
"Perhaps she is suffering," I answered him, "and perhaps she's frightened, too."
"No," my father said, "she has passed beyond suffering and fear. Those are diseases of the cattle pen, meet for the groundling herd. She is discovering the truth."

And they stand there for a
Very rarely do I not finish a book, but after 106 of its 350 pages I'm putting this one down. I just can't deal with it.

The beginning charmed me, because it was eloquent and because I disagreed with what it was saying. It was like Nietzsche, Plato, and Machiavelli decided to collaborate on a book: bizarre, but fascinating.

Then it grew offensive. Really I have seldom seen such unapologetic fetishization of rape, such blatant disdain (disguised of course as compassion) for
I would have them be like the branch of the olive tree. That one which bides its time. Then they will feel within them, like the swirling gust which tests the tree, the impulse of God's breath.
[...] I know that never any answer slakes our thirst. And that he who questions is seeking, primarily, the abyss.
For I perceived that man’s estate is as a citadel: he may throw down the walls to gain what he calls freedom, but then nothing of him remains save a dismantled fortress, open to
Jun 10, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Michel by: My grandmother
Shelves: doulce, lit, eleole
You know about that one proverbial book you would take with you on a desert island? Citadelle is it for me. Possibly because it's unfinished, and some parts are told several times, so you spend a lot of time choosing one iteration over another, and then changing your mind.
Feels like a dialogue with the reader, about maybe the most important subject for us humans: the meaning of it all. Tentative, interactive and ambiguous.
Feb 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the book I have to read many times in many different times of my life ...
Aug 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the most moving books I've ever had the honor to explore. For me, it read very much like sublime scripture. Certainly a life-changing book. I seem to remember the edition I read (it was borrowed) as being a rare, vintage, blue or red, cloth-bound, gold embossed and gilded edged hardback... in my hands it felt extremely burly, solid and biblical -worn to just the right condition and state of readability. The translation was spot-on. I'll never forget the pivotal experience of reading this. ...more
Ben Palpant
May 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sertillanges once said that we suffer for want of life giving maxims. Wisdom of the Sands is full of life giving maxims. This book is a top five book for me. Exupery worked on it for many years and said that all his other books were rehearsals for this one. That's quite a claim for a man who wrote The Little Prince and Wind, Sand, and Stars. Perhaps the reason this book has gone out of print is that he died before it's completion and it is a series of proverbial reflections that could use some e ...more
Dec 09, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Easy to pick up and put down at any time, for any time. A great go-to book to scratch the itch to read without needing a long investment of time to take something away from it (quite the opposite in fact).
Jul 30, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
Whether author or translator should be held responsible for a ponderous faux-biblical style, the substance belongs to Saint-Exupery, who presents a series of meditations on duty, courage, citizenship, love, and injustice, using all the symbols of The Little Prince (the rose, the desert, the fox, the absolute monarch) in a deeper and more tragic tone. I found my own faults condemned and harsh choices posed without ever feeling "judged."
Jun 19, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have read a first ed. English translation of this. Published posthumously, it was meant by St. Ex. to be an overall capture of his philosophies. (Service, self-relance, gift of oneself to something larger). He may not have been able polish this as much as he regularly would one of his manuscripts. It is a tough, but worthwhile read that rewards perseverance with beautiful sparse images, suitable to the desert it takes place in.
Fabien Couteaud
Jul 17, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wish St Ex. would have lived to finish this one... and write many more!
Oksana Burganova
MAGIC. Totally magic. Something really special for every reader. Absolutely recommended.
Martin Kabát
I’ve read Czech version from 1975 which was shortened by the communist editors to 137 chapters out of 219 in the original. It is quite impossible to read quickly as many chapters contain an elaborate on a thought and are not interconnected. Having said that, there’s a common theme in the book that is key and I wish to read all the chapters one day which might give me a better perspective on Exupéry’s thoughts.
Daniel Vinklar
Apr 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the best books of my life, always coming back to it, a life reference, a wisdom dwell and a delight at the same time... I love this book.
Jack Klimov
Mar 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The best book ever. Full of wisdom. I reread it several times and want to do it again. In my case i always find something new and important on every cycle.
Carmen Dochia
Apr 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I couldn't help it and I re-read it! What a great book ! If you think, Exupery simply describes the human soul by analogy with the raising of a new city. A human being's soul has to be built/re-built (after a ''natural'' disaster) , it needs time to clean/clear the rests of the calamity and it needs discipline to put effectively every new piece in the right and appropriate place . There may be a lot of 'boring' nature's descriptions in that book, but as I like to imagine how it looked, it didn't ...more
Daniel Albrecht
Oct 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Like a jewelry box hides all the gems, this book contains something strangely familiar. There is just something more beyond the stories. Their meaning touches something in you and keeps a feeling of wonder, familiarity and childishness. I also wrote down some wonderful quotes.. I don't know, this must have something to do with Antoine's understanding of life.. the words and stories feel so familiar yet it doesnt leave you with anything tangible.. which is probably the actual point and what makes ...more
Minh Ngoc Pham
Apr 29, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
Philosophical, lyrical and epic; at times repetitive and perplexing, this book was published posthumously and despite much editing, still feels somewhat like a life-long contemplation than a novel or anything of the sort.
Beni Pop
Jan 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Дмитрий Кравченко
this one is a "bible of existential philosophy", just can't define otherwise.
Dec 22, 2009 rated it did not like it
there is no book like this can so close to the heart
Mar 30, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novel
Very good book as usual with Antoine de Saint-Exupery even if this one is a bit longer than most of the others.
Too bad the author died before he could finish editing it. It was long and overly redundant (lol) even contradictory in places. He had some interesting ideas though
Veronika Ebringerová
in the Czech language
This is a very complex and philosophical work. I have to read more about Exupery's life and then I'll get back to it. At the moment it doesn't stick to me.
Feb 15, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Learn, my son, to listen, not to the sounds of words that weave the wind, nor to reasonings that throw dust in your eyes. Learn to look farther."
Chie Kenn
i want to read this book
Maksims Trivaškevičs
A work of a literary master.
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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
“The tree is more than first a seed, then a stem, then a living trunk, and then dead timber. The tree is a slow, enduring force straining to win the sky.” 39 likes
“It is not by way of language that I shall transmit what is within me; for it is inexpressible in words. I can but signify this insofar as you may understand it through other channels than the spoken word; by love's miracle or because, born of the same God, we are akin. Else I have to drag it out, laboriously--that sunken world within me. And thus, as my clumsiness avails, I display this or that aspect alone--as in the case of my mountain, of which I may say merely that it is high. But it is far more than that, and behind those weak words I have in mind the far-flung glory of the night when one stands on the heights, alone and shivering, amongst the stars.” 30 likes
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