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Night Flight

3.81  ·  Rating details ·  7,850 ratings  ·  558 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 December 1931)
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Average rating 3.81  · 
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 ·  7,850 ratings  ·  558 reviews

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Jan 03, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: french-language

St Exupéry's short but intense tribute to the pilots of Aéropostale is poetic, moving and suspenseful. I re-read many sentences and paragraphs, struck by their emotional impact and beautiful imagery. This is a novel that I'm particularly glad to have read in French rather than in translation.

If you've ever wanted to know what flying a 1920s plane in a storm in South America was like, then this is the book to read. Based on St-Exupéry's own experiences, the fact that he disappeared while flying
Jul 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Jun 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Now, a watchman from the heart of night, he learnt how night betrays man's presence, his voices, lights, and his unrest. That star down there in the shadows, alone; a lonely house. Yonder a fading star; that house is closing in upon its love. . . . Or on its lassitude. A house that has ceased to flash its signal to the world. Gathered round their lamp-lit table, those peasants do not know the measure of their hopes; they do not guess that their desire carries so far, out into the vastness of the ...more
Mar 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
A beautifully penned short novel, an elegy as eulogy - as if de Saint-Exupéry was writing the book that would foreshadow his own mortal struggle with metal, wind and altitude. The enemy isn't the Luftwaffe, it's nature's sinister insouciance - far more frightening than another mortal intent on one's personal destruction.

We do not pray for immortality, but only to see our acts and all things stripped suddenly of all their meaning; for then it is the utter emptiness of everything reveals itself
Dec 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 03, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Night Flight is a novel that made the famous Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. He realizes in this novel a real tribute to the pilots of Aéropostale. I had a hard time hanging in the beginning; it took me a long time before going back into history entirely and understand all the subtlety. The pilots showed a lot of courage and motivation during the night postage period in the 1930s. The author does not merely recount the lives of drivers in their cockpits. It goes further by focusing on the lives of the ...more
Liz Janet
Dec 18, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, why did you die so young?
This of course is not his best, it was only his second published work and it needed to be polished. Yet he gave such beauty to his writing, such an artist he was. This piece of art deals with much else he wrote, flight and airplanes. And he uses such a simple thing to convey if long-term goals (and money) are more important than a human life, and it is left to us to choose which side is our own, while him making it seem he chooses human life.
Jan 25, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  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
Jul 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
Amazing! Exupery magic.
Jul 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: five-star-books
One of my three favourite novels (the other two are Froth on the Daydream by Boris Vian and The Non-Existent Knight by Italo Calvino) and this is the second time I have read it. The first time was on a flight from Thessaloniki to London three years ago. I rarely read books twice. I even more rarely read them three times, but I suspect that this will become one of those select thrice-read classics in my life. I bought this edition because it is so nicely produced. I love the texture of the book, ...more
Aug 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
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
Rosie Nguyễn
Feb 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
I have always loved Exupery's writing, from The Little Prince, to Wind, Sand and Stars, and now, Night Flight. Reading his poetic and lyrical prose is like being in a stream, gently flowing down in its pure and fresh water. The beauty of his writing is beyond my ability to describe, something similar to the feeling of flying and singing at the same time. A nourishment of the soul. And his heroic life, a writer, an inventor, a pilot, dying so young in a flight. Every time I read his book, I just ...more
Dec 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
dear antoine de saint-exupery,

i understand that you'll never receive this letter. in the 20th century, your plane disappeared, never to be found until the beginning of the next millennium when you were long-gone. it shows that despite all the previous plane crashes you survived, such as in the sahara desert, you were not immortal. you, like your character the little prince were destined to someday fall.

yet somehow everything you composed within your lifetime had such a strange magic to it. p
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.
Noah Goats
Feb 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry was a pilot when flying a plane was still a crazy dangerous thing to do. In this slim little novel he poetically captures that danger, along with the romance and beauty experienced by those pioneers of aviation.
Feb 14, 2016 rated it it was ok
Extremely small book that is rather infuriating as only at its end does the form really open up, the meat of the book come to be ready, and the heart of its characters show. This being caused by the novel's brevity, the skill of the translation, or the efforts of author Exupery, I do not know--- but it is not enjoyable.

This is a very early novel about aviation. Following the mail routes in South America, which Exupery himself flew in the 20's, the story is the title; a 'Night Flight.' Why this i
Peter Colclasure
Readers looking for some sort of analogue to The Little Prince will be sorely disappointed.

Night Flight is a very short novel about the air mail service in South America in 1932. On this particular night, one plane gets lost in a storm and crashes, and the Buenos Aires station chief waxes philosophical about Duty vs. Love and Happiness.

This book is only 87 pages (with 14 point font), but still felt ponderous and melodramatic to me.

Describing the patchy radio transmissions from a lost plane:
Jun 25, 2007 rated it liked it
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
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
Stephanie Ricker
May 20, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: french, adventure
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
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
May 11, 2009 rated it liked it
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
Feb 20, 2013 rated it did not like it
Shelves: fiction
Paperback was sitting on my shelf, I picked it up to fill in time and actually struggled to finish it despite its small size. Maybe it was the old clunky English translation that affected me, but I just couldn't develop any appreciation for the work. The characters were unnecessarily introspective, the author's philosophical ramblings too abstract. A few descriptive sections providing some beautiful imagery, other than that I simply couldn't wait to toss the book back on a (lower) shelf and forg ...more
Boris Gregoric
Aug 05, 2012 rated it really liked it

It's the early 1930's, flying back and forth over the Cordillera, delivering air mail — what is there not to like? Of course, the beautifully poetic and evocative French that St. Exupéry honed to perfection, makes it even more memorable.

Pour moi, si je pouvais vivre dans un livre, LE VOL DE NUIT serait il..
This was my first time reading St Exupery and almost feel ashamed because I didn't like this book and his writing style. I even found some parts quite bad and the constant use of comas is slowing the reading path. The story's meaning itself is a powerful memory of an era but it didn't ring any bell to me. ...more
Sep 01, 2008 rated it really liked it
I like Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's works. Night flight about beginnings of commercil aviation is great as the author himself was a pilot. ...more
Jun 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2013-challenge
This book is by a French author, who was a mail pilot in South America before WWII. Aviation was extremely risky in the mountains, and this tale of flying in the stormy dark seems to symbolize the blindness imposed on the boss and the pilots by their pride and ambition.
May 19, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned-read, french
The story itself isn't really intressting, but the author's literary style is so damn amazing that you have to stop in every conversaton, every sentence, every word.. reread it and think about it. it's like poetry.. I love it. ...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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