Short summary - Wind, Sand and Stars - Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

French literature summaries - 2021

Short summary - Wind, Sand and Stars
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

The book is written in the first person. Exupery dedicated it to one of his fellow pilots - Henri Guillaume.
A person reveals himself in the fight against obstacles. The pilot is like the peasant who cultivates the land and thereby extorts some of nature's secrets from nature. The work of a pilot is just as fruitful. The first flight over Argentina was unforgettable: lights flickered below, and each of them spoke about the miracle of human consciousness - about dreams, hopes, love.
Exupery began working on the Toulouse-Dakar line in 1926. Experienced pilots were somewhat aloof, but in their abrupt stories a fabulous world of mountain ranges with traps, sinkholes and whirlwinds arose. The "old men" skillfully maintained the admiration, which only increased when one of them did not return from the flight. And then it was Exupery's turn: at night he went to the airfield in an old bus and, like many of his comrades, felt how a sovereign was born in him - the person responsible for the Spanish and African mail. The officials sitting next to them talked about illness, money, petty household chores - these people voluntarily imprisoned themselves in the prison of philistine prosperity, and a musician, poet or astronomer will never wake up in their hardened souls. Another thing is the pilot, who will have to enter into an argument with a thunderstorm, mountains and the ocean - no one regretted their choice, although for many this bus has become the last earthly refuge.
Among his comrades, Exupery singles out first of all Mermoza - one of the founders of the French airline Casablanca - Dakar and the discoverer of the South American line. Mermoz "conducted reconnaissance" for others and, having mastered the Andes, handed over this area to Guillaume, and he himself took up the taming of the night. He conquered the sands, mountains and the sea, which, in turn, consumed him more than once - but he always got out of captivity. And now, after twelve years of work, during the next voyage across the South Atlantic, he briefly announced that he was turning off the right rear engine. All radio stations from Paris to Buenos Aires were on a dreary watch, but there was no more news from Mermoz. Having rested at the bottom of the ocean, he completed his life's work.
No one will replace the dead. And the greatest happiness is experienced by pilots when suddenly the one who has already been mentally buried is resurrected. This happened with Guillaume, who disappeared during a voyage over the Andes. For five days, the comrades unsuccessfully searched for him, and there was no longer any doubt that he died - either in the fall or from the cold. But Guillaume worked the miracle of his own salvation, passing through snow and ice. He later said that he endured something that no animal could endure - there is nothing more noble than these words, showing the measure of man's greatness, defining his true place in nature.
The pilot thinks on the scale of the Universe and re-reads history in a new way. Civilization is just a fragile gilding. People forget that there is no deep layer of earth under their feet. An insignificant pond surrounded by houses and trees is subject to the ebb and flow of the tide. Under a thin layer of grass and flowers, amazing transformations take place - only thanks to an airplane it is sometimes possible to see them. Another magical property of an airplane is that it transports the pilot to the core of the miraculous. With Exupery, it happened in Argentina. He landed on a field, not suspecting that he would get into a fairy house and meet two young fairies who were friends with wild grasses and snakes. These savage princesses lived in harmony with the universe. What happened to them? The transition from girlhood to being a married woman is fraught with fatal mistakes - perhaps some fool has already taken the princess into slavery.
In the desert, such meetings are impossible - here the pilots become prisoners of the sands. The presence of the rebels made the Sahara even more hostile. Exupery knew the burden of the desert from the very first voyage; when his plane crashed near a small fort in West Africa, the old sergeant received the pilots as messengers of the sky - he cried when he heard their voices.
But in the same way, the recalcitrant Arabs of the desert were shocked when they visited France unfamiliar to them. If it suddenly rains in the Sahara, a great migration begins - whole tribes go three hundred leagues in search of grass. And in Savoy, precious moisture gushed, as if from a leaky cistern. And the old leaders said later that the French god is much more generous to the French than the god of the Arabs to the Arabs. Many barbarians wavered in their faith and almost surrendered to strangers, but among them there are still those who suddenly revolt in order to regain their former greatness - a fallen warrior who became a shepherd cannot forget how his heart was beating around the night fire. Exupery recalls a conversation with one of these nomads - this man did not defend freedom (in the desert everyone is free) and not wealth (there are none in the desert), but his own hidden world. The Arabs themselves were admired by the French captain Bonnafus, who made bold forays into the nomads. His existence adorned the sands, for there is no greater joy than the slaying of such a magnificent enemy. When Bonnafus left for France, the desert seemed to have lost one of its poles. But the Arabs continued to believe that he would return for the lost sense of valor - if this happened, the rebellious tribes would receive the message on the very first night. Then the soldiers will silently lead the camels to the well, prepare a supply of barley and check the locks, and then set out on a campaign, led by a strange feeling of hatred and love.
Even a slave can gain a sense of dignity if he has not lost his memory. The Arabs gave all the slaves the name Barq, but one of them remembered that his name was Mohammed and he was a cattle driver in Marrakech. In the end, Exupery managed to buy him out. At first, Bark did not know what to do with the newfound freedom. The old Negro was awakened by the smile of a child - he felt his importance on earth, having spent almost all the money on gifts for children. His guide decided that he was crazy with joy. And he was simply possessed by the need to become a man among people.
Now there are no rebellious tribes left. The sands have lost their secret. But the experience will never be forgotten. Once Exupery managed to get to the very heart of the desert - it happened in 1935, when his plane crashed into the ground near the borders of Libya. Together with the mechanic Prevost, he spent three endless days among the sands. The Sahara almost killed them: they suffered from thirst and loneliness, their reason was exhausted under the weight of mirages. The almost half-dead pilot told himself that he did not regret anything: he got the best part, for he left the city with his accountants and returned to the peasant truth. It was not danger that attracted him - he loved and loves life.
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pilots were saved by a Bedouin, who seemed to them to be an almighty deity. But the truth is difficult to understand even when you come into contact with it. In a moment of highest despair, a person finds peace of mind - probably, Bonnafus and Guillaume knew him. Anyone can wake up from mental slumber - this requires chance, fertile soil, or the imperious dictates of religion. On the Madrid front, Exupery met a sergeant who was once a small accountant in Barcelona - time called him, and he went into the army, feeling his calling in this. There is a truth in the hatred of war, but do not rush to condemn those who fight, for the truth of a person is what makes him a person. In a world that has become a desert, man longs to find comrades - those with whom he shares a common goal. You can become happy only by realizing your even modest role. In the third-class carriages, Exupery happened to see Polish workers being evicted from France. An entire people returned to their misery and poverty. These people looked like ugly lumps of clay - so pressed their life. But the face of the sleeping child was beautiful: he looked like a fairy-tale prince, like a baby Mozart, doomed to follow his parents through the same stamping press. These people did not suffer at all: Exupery suffered for them, realizing that Mozart was probably killed in everyone. Only the Spirit turns clay into a person.