Literary Fiction, Saint-Exupery, Antoine de

Review of Courrier Sud (Southern Mail) by Antoine de Saint-Exupery

What was it about?

Courrier Sud by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry follows an aviator named Bernis along a flight route spanning half the world. This lyrical narrative is centered on Bernis’ disappearance in the Saharan Desert. An unidentified narrator attempts to describe the young man’s experience of being a pilot for the French airmail service. Along the way, Bernis meets and romances a married woman who has heartaches of her own. Courrier Sud is  a semi-autobiographical story about the joys and sorrows of flight.

What did I think of it?

I am currently reading through the writings of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. Courrier Sud, published in 1929, was the author’s first novel. Through elegant and powerful prose, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry describes the life of a pilot as being at once calm and turbulent. While a pilot constantly dreams of traveling, he doesn’t really have a home. He only has the sun and the clouds to keep him company. Just as the pilot arrives at his destination, he is sent away on another mission. He is a nomad of the skies.

Courrier Sud is a wonderful introduction to Saint-Exupéry’s writings as it contains themes that are also explored in his later works. It is clear that the author has a keen ear for language. In contrast to the flights his characters go on, the sentences flow very smoothly. If you enjoy reading literary fiction, you will almost certainly appreciate Courrier Sud.

Favorite Quote

Déjà s’était dénouée en lui toute sa ferveur. Il se disait : « Tu ne peux rien me donner de ce que je désire. » Et pourtant son isolement était si cruel qu’il eut besoin d’elle. 

[My translation]: Already, in him, all passion had come undone. [Bernis] said to himself, “You cannot give me anything I desire.” And yet his solitude was so agonizing that he needed her.

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